Friday, September 10, 2010


Pune Style

Pune is a Tea Town.

Yes, when I was a small boy, in the 1960s, Pune [or Poona as it was known then] was a “TEA TOWN”.

During those days, in Pune, everyone drank tea, except some quirky upaas type aunts who always insisted on sweet milky jaiphal spiced coffee and were “fasting” most of the time on yummy delicacies like Sabudana Khichadi and Wade, Rajgire, waryache tandul, healthy fruits, nourishing milk, calorie-rich pure ghee sweets and similar lip-smacking upasasache padartha.

By the way DALDA, quite popular in those days, made from hydrogenated oils was quite mysteriously “permitted” for upaas as it was considered to be “ghee”.

At home, tea was made in typical Puneri manner as described in my blog post recipe  A Cup of Delicious Tea

Outside your home, there were chiefly two types of tea for the laidback discerning gourmet Punekar to relish – AMRUT TULYA CHAHA at the ubiquitous Amruttulya Tea Shops at every nook and corner of Pune, and the peerless IRANI CHAI served by the numerous Irani Restaurants all over Pune city and camp like Café Naaz, Lucky, Good Luck, Volga etc. Indeed Amrut tulya Chaha and Irani Chai are an important aspect of the culinary heritage of Pune.

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 gulabi Irani Chai.

Drench in a fresh soft bun-maska, place it on your tongue, and close your eyes – aren’t you in seventh heaven? Even a cup of piping hot Irani Tea by itself is sheer bliss. 
Of my favourite Irani Restaurants, Naaz, Lucky and many others have disappeared, and only Good Luck remains.

Amrut Tulya Chaha tea shops too are fast vanishing too like the one nearest to where I lived on Tilak Road in Sadashiv Peth in the 1960’s next to Ashok Bakery which also disappeared a few years ago. Further down the road past SP College towards Maharashtra Mandal there still exist the legendary Ambika and New Ambika Amruttulyas -- a friend of mine used to say that the morning tea was superb in one and the evening tea in the other.

It’s really sad. The culture of Pune is fast changing. The youngsters don’t drink tea anymore – it’s infra dig, isn’t it?

The young and the restless prefer Coffee. No, not the peaberry-plantation filter coffee served by the Udipi Restaurants which we used to love, but the expensive stylish international coffees served at posh Baristas, CCDs, and high-falutin coffee shops proliferating rapidly all over Pune.

Just imagine, the other day I couldn’t get a cup of decent tea in a multiplex, but there were plenty of varieties of coffee all around.

Hey, it seems I am rambling away and have gone off on a tangent, so let me not digress from our main topic – The Art of making Amrut Tulya Tea.

Amrut means Nectar, and Tulya means Comparable, so “Amrut Tulya” means “Comparable to Nectar” and indeed, true to its name, Amrut-Tulya Tea is comparable to nectar –  sweet, ambrosial, like the elixir of life!

I loved watching Amrut Tulya Chaha being prepared. Amrut Tulya Tea is not brewed in the traditional Tea service style. The Tea is “cooked” in front of you in a brass vessel and as the vessel ages it becomes “tastier” and tastier with time.

I love the “special” chaha.

Milk and water are boiled together, with plenty of sugar, masala [comprising crushed cardamom, ginger], and tea leaves, stirring continuously to make sure it doesn’t overflow.

Come, my dear Tea Lover, let me tell you how to make Amrut Tulya Chaha - The Art of making Tea – Pune Style. 

Assemble the following Ingredients for Two Cups of Amrut Tulya Tea “Special Chaha”.

If you live in Pune, get the famous CTC+OP “Family Mixture” Tea Powder from your favourite “Tea Depot” in the heart of Pune City. Or you may use some good Assam CTC Tea.

By the way, the acronyms are: CTC – Crush, Tear, Curl; OP – Orange Pekoe; BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe.

Full Cream Buffalo Milk [I like Chitale or Sane dairy]

Fresh Water


Fresh Ginger Crushed [Better still you can crush the juicy fresh ginger with the chimta directly in the water-milk concoction to let the ginger juices flow out and blend in smoothly]

Cardamom – peel, crush and powder the pods

Before you start, dear reader, here is a note of caution: Please remember that Amrut Tulya Tea is not your traditional Masala Chai so please don’t add any Tea Masalas or spices like clove, cinnamon, black peppercorns or herbs like gavati chaha (lemon grass), tulsi leaves etc. and neither is it the “khada chamach” or “cutting” Chai so please don’t boil away to glory – remember, you must achieve Amrut Tulya Chaha of just the right consistency...!  

Now let us start “cooking” amrut tulya tea – we will make two cups, one for you and one for me.

In a brass vessel [or stainless steel, if you can’t 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 add a pinch of cardamom powder and the freshly crushed peel.

Lightly and lovingly stir the concoction, let it warm, and bring to a boil.

Smartly 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 beautiful 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 Chaha, directly into the cups.

You can drink it from the cup, or better still 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.

Amrut Tulya Chaha is truly lip-smacking tasty and soul-refreshing – blissful ambrosia, an experience of nectar – you can take my word for it.

Now you know why they call this refreshingly delicious and nourishing tea Amrut Tulya “comparable to Nectar” Chaha.

Cheers...!!! Enjoy your cup of special Amrut Tulya Nectar Tea.

Pune Style

© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 
VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU and The Lawrence School Lovedale, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book "Appetite for a Stroll". Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
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