Thank you Kellie Maloney of The Cultural Pulse for this write up.
First established through stalls and at local markets in Sydney, ‘The Chai Room’ began as a passion project for founder Fatema Khanbhai.
“It wasn’t until moving to Australia [from the UK] that I discovered what chai meant to me,” Fatema says.
“It was always something we would use as a tool to welcome people into our home and to also create time for ourselves.”
Photo courtesy of ‘The Possibility Project’
Chai essentially translates to ‘tea’ and masala means ‘a mixture of ground spices usually used in Indian cooking’. Masala chai is a delicious Indian milk tea made with a blend of aromatic ground spices like fennel, cardamom, ginger and clove.
This unique blend of tea and spices originated in India thousands of years ago with millions of tea lovers discovering the new flavours of ‘masala’ chai.
Fatema recalls Sunday morning breakfasts and her mother preparing steaming cups of chai for the family. The family actually had a ‘chai room’, that could only be occupied when people were visiting. Fatema remembers the room always smelling of tantalising chai spices and aromas.
Fatema’s family have traversed all over the world from their ancestral home of Gujarat in Ahmedabad, with Fatema herself being raised in the UK.
She says that chai connects Indian people back to their diaspora and is used as a way to easily engage with their traditional culture.
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“Wherever we went we would bring chai with us,” Fatema says.
“For Indians it is something you can take with you wherever you go, allowing you to introduce others to something quite different for them.”
“Tea is loved all over the world and masala chai is a uniquely special form of tea that originated in India. The aroma of the ground spices adds to the flavour of the tea leaves and reminds me of back home in India. I believe a strong cup of masala chai is always relaxing for the body mind and spirit. It’s also an important part of entertaining family and friends after a meal.“
– Minu Sharma, editor of Indus Age Australia.
With their refinement of diverse and distinguished blends, ‘The Chai Room’ goes beyond more traditional masala chai, offering products inspired by other cultures.
An example of this is more native Australian herbs and spices, like Roasted Wattle Seed and Lemon Myrtle.
Fatema says that including more diverse, cultural flavours in their blends is a “lovely way to create a kind of unity. There is no better way to do this than through food.”
Fatema says that chai is very ritualistic, and there is an intricacy to every spice that goes into a chai blend, with different meanings for each person.
“It can be something you can have alone or with other people,” she says, “it can bring you joy in any kind of environment.”
Fatema adds, “Our chai blends have all come from a really authentic place. They are a way to communicate with people.”
Click HERE to find out more about ‘The Chai Room’ and find your own favourite blend!