India’s favourite roadside beverage gets a makeover in the chain of cafés known as Chaayos

Not everything needs to happen over a cup of coffee, tea can also work wonders. Two IIT graduates, Nitin Saluja and Raghav Verma, believe firmly in this philosophy. Their passion and love for chai made them leave their well-paying jobs to start a chain of outlets called “Chaayos”.

Being a chai person, what could be better than reviewing a dedicated tea café? I was impressed to see the two-level tea café at the Galleria market in Gurgaon packed with tea enthusiasts. The menu is simple yet exciting. Chaayos offers 25 variants of some crazy concoctions of tea. Apart from the classic teas such as Earl Grey, Darjeeling and jasmine, their special teas are also worth a try. I started with Chaayos’ version of desi chai, which comes with the option of 12 add-ons. They include tulsi, adrak, elaichi, cinnamon, ajwain, kali mirch, saunf, mint, laung, moti elaichi and hari mirch. But the best part of the chai was that I was able to differentiate the flavours of each ingredient. For me it’s a master recipe as it is very difficult to maintain the balance of so many strong ingredients.

Gods Chai, a take on the Himalayan tea, had an altogether different aroma and taste. Rose cardamom, an attempt to get flavour out of the two robust aromas, needed a tweak as cardamom totally suppressed the rose flavour. In half an hour I sipped ten odd flavours, each leaving me with its own impression.

Chai for me is incomplete without wai. I mean rusk, sandwiches or biscuits to dip in. And Chaayos doesn’t disappoint with these too, offering some cool roadside stuff such as keema pav, vada pav, bun maska, rusk in a hygienic packing.

Even their innovations such as a maggi sandwich and nutella sandwich in multi-grain bread are among the favourites with the youngsters. People who don’t want to taste the flavourful teas can sip some refreshing fruit shakes, Modinagar shikanji and mint lemonade. Getting the masala sourced from Modinagar, according to Raghav, has helped to retain the authentic flavour of the famous shikanji. But I liked the lemonade better; it had the wonderfully soothing green colour of fresh mint and an icy cool effect — perfect to beat the heat of Delhi in the coming months.

Price: Rs 41 onwards.

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