By Momina Aftab
Of the many traditions and cultural practices we experience in Pakistan, and perhaps the most common is every Pakistani’s love of chai. This is a nation that starts the day with chai; served in china cups in the dining rooms of the elite; on the street corner served by the young boy at a dhabba where truck drivers huddle for a warm drink; from the boardroom of corporates to the students – a Pakistani can connect with friends, and strangers, over a simple doodh patti or karak chai.
The true Pakistani experience is never complete without chai, whether it’s in clay matkas or in china cups. Here are some of the most popular blends served locally that everyone must try:
The dhoodh patti
On the more sweeter side and found at every truck station and dhabba, the doodh patti is blended with only tea leaves and milk, with generous amounts of sugar. Served as humbly as its origins, this is a staple drink in almost all parts of the country.
On the south of the border, you’ll find a Karachite immersed in masala chai, which literally translates into spicy chai. The local blend includes cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pepper, and a variety of other locally sourced spices seasoned according to taste and local preference. Especially during the colder months of winter, this cup of tea cannot be missed.
As the name suggests, this popular tea is from the region of Kashmir but enjoyed by everyone in the country and beyond. A characteristic pink color, the blend is common at celebrations such as weddings, often with a dusting of nuts on top such as almonds and pistachios.
This household blend called karak chai is a popular drink at social gatherings, cafes, etc. Karak chai is a stronger mix than its many counterparts, with a strong dose of loose tea leaves blended with evaporated milk to create a cup like no other.
Kehwa is the local take on herbal teas and green teas, with local varieties including many different tastes and blends. Pakistani kehwa is brewed strong and consumed religiously in almost every part of the country, with a side of sweets and other delicacies in line with regional palettes.
With many more blends presented from every community, it’s clear that the connection people share over a simple cup of chai goes a long way. In a country as diverse as Pakistan, with an equally diverse palette of chais, the culture shared over this drink is essential to the local experience.