"Mohabath Sulaimani" - Romance in a cup of tea
There was a time, dating back way before this tea was graced by it's name.Making this cup then, was a ritual for me during my study holidays and weekends in Davangere.After a siesta, I would wake up and get to making this in my hostel room and the instant spark of energy that came through with the first sip was what I was in for.
Years later, came out it's refined and ethereal version which was portrayed as nothing short of an elixir of romance in the critically acclaimed Malayalam movie, "Ustad Hotel".In the movie, the actor describes his "Sulaimani" aka Black tea brewed with an indispensable ingredient which is "Mohabath" meaning romance and no matter how well you brew in all the other ingredients, it is incomplete without a pinch of love.
This particular scene from the movie, I am assuming is from where the countless versions of "Mohabath Sulaimani" stemmed or took form in various cafes and teashops in Kerala and around the world.My first experience was at one of my all-time favorite Kerala restaurants in Karama, "Nadumuttam" and would probably count as a beverage I have had the most number of times with their crunchy Chicken Pakoda.
The ease of making this is kind of overrated and I have had horribly brewed cups at different places and even gone wrong myself a number of times resulting in bitter, sour or way too sweet endings.There are two ways to make this, the only difference being the order of addition of ingredients.Kindly refer the notes below for the *marked ingredients in this recipe for extra reading.
Tea dust/loose tea* 1.5 Tbsp
Cardamom* Seeds from 4 pods gently crushed
Salt a pinch
Sugar 3 Tbsp
Lime juice* 6-8 drops from Half a lime
Mint leaves 1 sprig (optional)
Water 2 Cups
Love A pinch
Serves - Two glasses
1.Boil the water in a saucepan along with the cardamom seeds and sugar.
2.Once the water begins to roll boil, add the tea dust and let it simmer for a minute.
3.In a tall mug squeeze in the lime juice, followed by salt and mint leaves.
4.Pour the tea mixture from the saucepan into the mug and stir well.Allow the tea to steep for about three minutes and strain into two tea glasses.
5.Garnish with a mint leaf.
1.Prepare all the ingredients and place them in a tall mug.
2.Boil the water and add them to the mug.
3.Stir the mixture and allow to steep for six minutes.
4.Strain and pour into two tea glasses.
5.Garnish with a mint leaf.
Clearly, the second method is quicker and is one that I resort to when I am out of time and badly need to settle down with a cup.The first method yields more distinct flavors as there is enough window for each ingredient to infuse and emerge as the tea brews.Either way you will end up with that golden liquid in your glass as a result of the chemistry between tea and citrus.More importantly, do not forget to brew it with love as that is what the glory of this cup is all about.
*Loose tea yields the best results as opposed to teabags and a brand I usually prefer is Red Label by Brooke Bond.
*The cardamom pods have to be gently crushed to release the flavor in the seeds and use only the seeds for the brew.However, there is no harm in using the skin if you prefer a stronger flavor.
*Lime may be substituted with lemon but be mindful that the flavor will be very different from that imparted by lime.However, both being from the citrus family, the benefits are more or less the same.
1.I have always found this tea to be an excellent remedy for a hangover from work related fatigue and Dysania.
2."Adding sugar or artificial sweeteners does not appear to change the chemistry of tea, however lemon and milk can. The polyphenols in all tea bind with iron and calcium and thus prevent these minerals from being absorbed, however, adding lemon juice inhibits this binding and makes the minerals available for the body to use; lemon juice added to black tea will increase iron and calcium solubility and absorption in the body. " - www.theteamuse.com
3.Adding Cardamom has known to help relieve tension headaches and I am a living proof of how much it has worked on me.
4.Mint leaves impart that fresh and energizing zing to the body of the tea and happens to be the one ingredient that can be opted out if you aren't a fan of mint in your tea without making a drastic difference to the taste and benefits.
I like to binge on some Kerala style banana chips while sipping on my tea and they happen to be the perfect accompaniment to this Sulaimani.So make this tea on a lazy Sunday afternoon, put your feet up and snack on some chips while the tunes of "Ustad Hotel" play in the background and feel the world slow down around you in the midst of some love, some Mohabath !