Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Chai Karak with Cardamom Spice
Photo by ameli0rate / CC BY

Chapati Flat Bread Made on Stove top
Photo by oliverhiltbrunner / CC BY

Tea Time in Qatar
Photo by daly3d / CC BY

Chapati and Karak
Photo by tomerickson / CC BY

Teapot Monument in Doha, Qatar
Photo by jungle_boy / CC BY

OTHER NAMES: Karak Chai, Kadak Chai, Chai Haleeb aka Chai Hindi

Chai Karak roughly means "strong tea." It is a very popular milk tea in Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iran, and many other Arabic Gulf areas. It is similar to Masala Chai, but usually only use the spice cardamom. [1] Instead of whole milk, Chai Karak sometimes adds condense milk (or evaporate milk) to bring out the rich flavor. It usually served with Chapati, a unleavened flat bread.


The tea is simmered with milk, which makes it smooth and creamy. Depending on the spice added it will have different taste such as cardamom, ginger, and saffro. 


Chai Karak originated in India, which can tell by its tea making method and similar ingredients like Indian Masala Chai.


In Qatar and UAE, Chai Karak has become an integral part of local culture, even popular among young people. [2]

According to Gulf News, Ashfaq Ahmed describes tea cafeteria culture in Dubai, "The scene definitely attracts attention of those who are new to the area as hundreds of cars stopped in front of this cafeteria everyday to have a sip of karak chai. It is a two way single road and the traffic moves at a snail's pace on both sides as motorists stop, blocking the road to get their favourite tea. At least two to three young boys stand there from early morning until late at night to deliver tea in their cars." [3]

Some of the most popular cafeterias in Qatar are Tea Time and Al Naimi Cafeteria. Al Naimi Cafeteria, in particular, is a popular hang out spot for youngster. It is located near Al-Sadd, Doha, Qatar. The spot were also rumored to be a location of car drifting challenge for young people. [4]

Chai Karak began its journey across the globe by a café restaurant chain, Chapati & Karak, which branched out to London and will expand to New York City very soon. [5] Here is a video of what the outdoor Chapati & Karak is like. 


Middle Eastern teapot is relatively taller than other teapots. It has an unique curvy shape with a long mouth near the top of the teapot. In Qatar, there is even a teapot monument near Ad Dawhah area at Doha.


1. Crush the spice with mortar and pestle. 
2. Then, in a saucepan add water, spice, and tea. Allow the mixture to boil on high heat for 5 minutes or until aromatic. 
3. Turn heat down to medium and add sugar and milk. 
4. Stir the karak chai until heated thoroughly. 
5. Pour into a cup through strainer. 

Recipe can be varied from ingredients and taste is based on amount. An example of Karak Chai recipe can be found at Ya Salam Cooking.

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