Wednesday, June 17, 2015

PUNE – TEA or COFFEE ?

This morning – after my morning walk – I stopped at my favourite Amrutatulya for a cup of Tea.

While sipping my cup of delicious Amrutatulya Chaha – I remembered this article I had written 5 years ago  in the year 2010 – for my Pune Heritage Series of Articles on Pune Reminiscences: – A PUNEKAR WALKS DOWN MEMORY LANE

So – I thought it would be a good idea to delve into my Foodie Archives and post the article, revised and abridged, for your perusal.

TEA TOWN PUNE
Reminiscences of Yesteryear Poona 
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Pune is a Tea Town. 


Or should I say: “Pune was a Tea Town” – because the culinary culture of Pune has changed.

Youngsters do not drink tea anymore – they consider it infra dig to have a cup of tea. 

Yes  the young and the restless prefer Coffee. 


(Of course  many youngsters prefer stronger, more intoxicating, beverages  like Beer, Vodka, Whisky, Rum and suchlike alcoholic Spirits)


And mind you  even those youngsters who drink coffee no longer like the rejuvenating cup of Peaberry/Plantation Filter Coffee served by the Udipi restaurants  which we used to love. 


Youngsters prefer the expensive stylish alien international coffees served at posh Baristas, CCD’s, Starbucks and high-falutin coffee shops proliferating rapidly all over Pune.


Of course – the coffees served in these branded coffee shops have their its own unique flavours – and it is all a question of changing tastes.
Just imagine  the other day I could not get a cup of decent tea in a multiplex cinema – but there were plenty of varieties of exotic coffee all around. 
For us traditional “old fogies” – we feel that these exotic coffees are quite “alien” to the Indian style and do not fortify you like the strong cup of Indian Filter Coffee or perk you up like a cuppa of Amrut tulya tea does.
Going back to my childhood days in 1960 Pune was a 100% “TEA TOWN”. 
In Pune – or Poona as it was known then  everyone drank tea  except some quirky upaas type aunts who insisted on drinking coffee.
YESTERYEAR PUNE – TWO TYPES OF TEA – AMRUT-TULYA (AMRUTATULYA CHAHA) and IRANI CHAI
In the “good old days” – there were chiefly two types of tea for the laid-back discerning gourmet Punekar to relish:
1. The tasty flavoursome AMRUT-TULYA CHAHA at the ubiquitous Amrutatulya Tea Shops at every nook and corner of Pune 
2. The peerless inimitable IRANI CHAI served by the numerous Irani Restaurants across the city of Pune. Places like Café Naaz, Lucky, Good Luck, Volga, Vahuman etc were popular for their tasty Irani Chai
Indeed Amrutatulya Chaha and Irani Chai are an important aspect of the culinary heritage of our Pune.
IRANI CHAI
Irani Chai is the most rejuvenating beverage I have ever had
They keep the steaming rich tea brew and hot milk in separate containers  and mix it in just the right proportion to get the terrific inimitable pinkish Gulabi Chai.
A few years ago  I got a shock of my life when I discovered a Barista coffee shop in place of my favourite Naaz at the Northern End of Main Street. 
Yes  my favourite Irani Restaurants, Naaz, Lucky and many others have disappeared  and only the redoubtable Good Luck at Deccan Gymkhana remains.
AMRUTATULYA CHAHA
Amrutatulya Chaha Tea Shops too are fast vanishing. 
The one nearest to where I lived on Tilak Road in Sadashiv Peth in the 1960’s next to Ashok Bakery has disappeared many years ago. 
Further down Tilak Road past SP College towards Maharashtra Mandal there still exist the legendary Ambika and New Ambika Amrutatulyas
A friend of mine used to savour his morning cuppa in Ambika  and his evening cup of tea in New Ambika. 
If you look around you will still find a number of Amrut-tulyas in the heart of Pune city  though in the newly developed cosmopolitan suburbs there are Tea Tapris.
Amrut means nectar  and Tulya means comparable  so “Amrut Tulya” means “Comparable to Nectar”
And indeed  true to its name  Amrutatulya tea is comparable to nectar –  sweet, ambrosial  like the elixir of life!
I love watching Amrutatulya chaha being prepared. 
They prepare tea in front of you in a brass vessel. 
The speciality of this vessel is that as it starts ageing  the tea becomes tastier. 
Milk and water are boiled together  with plenty of sugar, cardamom powder, crushed ginger and tea leaves  stirring continuously to make sure the concoction does not overflow. 
The aroma of this tea is tempting enough to pull you inside for a hot cup of tea.
As an ardent tea lover  I am glad to share a recipe of traditional Amrutatulya chaha
RECIPE FOR AMRUTATULYA CHAHA (Amrut Tulya Tea)
Ingredients
Tea Leaf: If you live in Pune, get the famous CTC+OP (CTC – Crush, Tear, Curl; OP – Orange Pekoe; BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe) family mixture tea powder from any of the tea depot located in the heart of Pune City. If you prefer branded tea, you may use some good Assam CTC tea. You may also use a strong leaf tea brand like Wagh Bakri Premium Leaf Tea if you prefer.
Full Cream Buffalo Milk
Fresh Water
Sugar
Fresh Ginger Crushed (Better still you can crush the juicy fresh ginger with the chimta directly into the water-milk concoction to let the ginger juices flow out and blend in smoothly.
Cardamom (Elaichi) – peel, crush and powder the pods
Please remember that Amrutatulya tea is not your traditional masala chai  so please do not add any tea masalas or spices like clove, cinnamon, black peppercorns or herbs like gavati chaha (lemon grass), tulsi leaves etc. 
Also remember it is not the khada chamach or cutting chai  so please don’t boil away to glory.
And do remember – Amrutatulya Chaha is cooked – not brewed.
Method of “Cooking” Amrut Tulya Chaha
  • In a brass vessel (or stainless steel  if you cannot get a brass vessel)  mix one cup of water and one cup of milk.
  • Add four teaspoons of sugar.
  • Put on the stove on medium heat.
  • Squeeze in a bit of fresh crushed ginger  and then add a pinch of freshly ground cardamom powder and the freshly crushed cardamom peel.
  • Lightly and lovingly stir the concoction  let it warm  and bring it to boil.
  • Add two teaspoons of tea powder  and keep stirring gently to ensure the boiling concoction does not spill over.
  • Keep boiling till the tea attains bright golden-orange colour.
  • The moment you see a reddish tinge  give the heavenly brew a loving last stir  twirl the vessel  and sieve the Amrut Tulya Nectar Tea  your Special Amrutatulya Chaha  directly into the cups.
You can drink Amrutatulya Chaha from your cup.
But you will enjoy Amrutatulya Tea better if you drink it from the saucer  sucking and pulling in the yummy liquid with your lips  and let it deliciously emulsify on your tongue for that heavenly elevating feeling.
Sip the delicious tea slowly and mindfully  roll it on your tongue  let it mingle in your palate  close your eyes  absorb, discern the flavour, the rich taste  relish every sip lovingly.
Amrutatulya Chaha is truly lip-smacking tasty and soul refreshing  blissful ambrosia  an experience of nectar – you can take my word for it. 
Once you experience the bliss of good Amrut Tulya” Chaha – you will know why they call this refreshingly delicious and nourishing tea Amrut Tulya or “Comparable to Nectar” Tea.
Cheers!!! 
Enjoy your cup of special Puneri Amrutatulya Nectar Tea. 


If you are a true blue Punekar  don’t head for the nearest coffee shop or watering hole like a beer bar, lounge, pub or a booze shop – just look around for an Amrutatulya Tea Shop and rejuvenate yourself with a cuppa.
VIKRAM KARVE
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