This year, in March, we took a short trip to Varanasi, erstwhile Benares / Banaras whose ancient name is Kashi and which according to Mark Twain is a city that is ‘older than history, older than tradition, older even than legends and looks twice as old as all of them put together’. It is considered to be the oldest living city.
Varanasi is famous for many things such as the Benarasi Silk, Benarasi Paan, Banarasi Chaat to name just a few. The city holds an exalted and very special place in the hearts of Hindus. The sights and sounds of Varanasi are worth a visit and we do intend to visit the city again (God willing) since this visit was a very short one (barely two days).
While we were on the ghats of the holy river Ganga, we realised that there is one more thing that can now be added to the list of Banarasi specials, which is this lemon masala tea. It is a concoction specific to the city of Banaras or should I say the ghats of Banaras; Assi Ghat to be precise.
The tea has a spice mix added to it along with lemon juice which makes it unique yet very delicious and moreish. The special spice mix is actually the powdered Hajmola!
Hajmola are digestive tablets that are very popular in India. They are tangy and spicy and they have been a favourite with generations of Indians. Who could have thought you can add it to your tea and make it taste so appetising and brilliant!
This tea is perfect for those, who like me, do not like the rich milky chai. Another thing I like about this tea is that it is a very light/ mild concoction. Very little amount of tea is used for the preparation of this tea since you want the flavours of the hajmola and spices to shine through. And it’s a kind of tea, to enjoy after a rich heavy meal since it is digestive in nature and also soothing. Actually, you need no reason to enjoy it 😀
250 ml Water
¼ tsp Tea granules
1 small pinch Kala Namak (black salt)
1 pinch Bhuna Jeera Powder (roasted & powdered cumin seeds)
2 – 3 Hajmola tablets (adjust to taste)
1/3 to ½ tsp Lemon Juice (adjust to taste)
1 tsp Sweetener
Heat water in a pot or a kettle and bring it to boil. Add tea and boil the contents for half a minute. (the amount will depend on how strong your tea is…mine is strong and this amount of boiling time was sufficient)
Immediately switch off the heat.
Add the sweetener and stir to dissolve it completely.
Grind the hajmola tablets to powder and set aside.
Strain the tea and heat it once again.
Add kala namak, bhuna jeera powder, hajmola tablets and lemon juice to the serving glass of cup and pour in the tea. Stir, serve and enjoy this unique, tangy, sweet, spicy, refreshing and digestive tea! (taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking)
Serves – 1 to 2 (depending on how large a helping you like)
Note – You can also add a tiny pinch of carrom seeds / ajwain to it to add to the digestive properties of the tea.
Thank you for your visit and see you soon again, with another exciting recipe!