Across Dubai, Karak chai is undoubtedly the popular drink that fuels the city. There are tea stalls and cafeterias that can boast about pouring out thousands of cups of this sweet, creamy beverage daily, helping many residents, including the locals, the expatriates, the young and old, start, get through, and end their busy days. Many witness a huge lineup of glitzy cars waiting with the engines roaring for that piping hot, comforting, milky goodness to be delivered to them in disposable cups.
In the Gulf region, tea is often referred to as ‘karak’. A variation of the Indian masala chai, the word karak literally translates into ‘stiff’ or ‘hard’ and suggests tea that is made ‘strong’ by steeping the leaves for longer or diluting it with less milk. It is essentially a blend of black tea, milk, and sugar, prepared by boiling over a low flame and usually flavored with cardamom. Some people add ginger or saffron too. Condensed or evaporated milk is sometimes used to provide a rich flavor.
In true Dubai style, a cup of fragrant, refreshing karak chai paired well with sandwiches or cheese pastries and a long chat with a group of friends will make for an evening to remember for a long time. The popular tea that is savored across the region and is also a favored drink in many households, has now found its way into ice cream flavors, cakes and desserts.