By Amanda Sealy, CNN
From the moment CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta begins to crush the cardamom, the smell unlocks memories from his childhood.
“I used to make chai for my parents all the time,” Gupta said.
With three daughters, Gupta’s household is a constant flurry of activity, so it’s not always easy to get everyone together. But taking the time to pass down this recipe offers a rare moment to take in the aromas of this tradition.
“It’s pretty fun to make chai with your daughters and just to go through an activity like that, sort of think about traditions and how they’re really meaningful. It’s the drink itself, but it’s everything that goes into it,” he said.
To be clear, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill spiced tea. The chai that Gupta is teaching his daughters to make brings together fresh spices, steeped along with a strong black tea.
The addition of half-and-half gives the warming drink a smooth, subtly sweet finish. While there are many ways to make chai, this is his mother Damyanti Gupta’s special brew.
“It was interesting to go back with my mom to Pakistan and India and to sort of see where she learned the traditions in the first place, and it’s slightly different in Pakistan and India. This tea that we’re drinking today is really her own creation,” he explained.
While the recipe is fairly simple, there is one ingredient that Gupta thinks takes this chai to the next level: brown sugar.
“It’s almost like molasses, but better.”
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Stay tuned for the next edition of this series, in which CNN anchors reveal cooking tips and personal stories from the kitchen.