Tea lovers will know the importance of the morning cuppa. A refreshing cup of tea is what keeps the ball rolling in our hectic lifestyle. Whether on a blissful monsoon day with crispy, crunchy bhajiyas, or as the bed tea, the chai and sutta breaks from work or even a gloomy day, the quintessential chai works like a magic potion for us Mumbai-kars.
Chef Rajendra Dhuri is a chai expert at Courtyard By Marriott and it is this tea, the morning cuppa which has risen him to a great place in life. Yes, tea also changes lives in this city of dreams.
Hailing from a humble background, Dhuri began as a steward at Courtyard By Marriott Mumbai. His job was merely of being of help to professional chefs, setting up the equipment, cleaning them, doing the dishes and so on. One of his many tasks was to make tea for the entire staff. This Dhuri did as his first job of the day, every day.
One day, the Executive Chef happened to taste the tea made by Dhuri and loved it. So much so, he recommended that Dhuri take charge of the masala tea counter at the coffee shop. It’s been five years or so and he still takes care of his stall at the Momo Café and delights the customers with a refreshing cup of masala chai.
A Rendevous With The Humble Chef
Chef Rajendra Dhuri has a docile nature and is down to earth even after his success. Still deeply connected to his roots he stays with his parents whereas his brothers and sisters are well settled in their own lives. “I always wanted to live with my parents, I encouraged my siblings to pursuit their dreams and run their own households but I wanted to continue staying with the elders,” he said with utmost delight.
On asking about how his experience has been at Marriott before and after becoming a masala tea specialist he replies, “I am what I am because of this place and I’m still in touch with the Executive Chef who raised me to this position and message him daily. My day starts at 4 AM and in an hour you’ll find the tea ready. We have a range of khari, dry snacks and biscuits to be enjoyed with the morning tea.” His smile is captivating and his motivation unchallenged. “I come down here on holidays too. I dedicate two hours on the holidays each morning, make tea and head home. The patrons shouldn’t feel that the tea served is inconsistent.”
We asked him on what the patrons feel about his tea, or if there was someone who commended highly of his specialty he said, “There was a couple who saw my video and made sure that they come down especially from Gujarat just to have my tea. Then the captain of the Pro Kabaddi team loves my tea as well and so do a lot of foreigners. They enjoy having Indian delicacies and chai is one of them.”
He mentioned his new bride and we teased him a little by asking if he has ever made tea for her and Dhuri blushed and said, “No, not yet.” He sure is a commendable human being and even asked us to drop down early morning so that we could savour the tea at its finest.
Chef Dhuri served us tea in a classic aluminium teapot popular in Mumbai and served it in cutting chai glasses. Only the glasses were more than double the size of what tea vendors have. He poured the masala chai and on taking a sip of it, we were transported into another world. The tea was absolutely blissful. Paired with delicious Mirchi Vadas and Bhajiyas it was the perfect duo on a rainy day. This chai can cure your hangover, make mornings worth waking up for and soothe an aching heart.
When asked about what makes this tea special Chef Dhuri beamed and said, “It is my grandmother’s recipe and the tea leaves are grown in my village in Konkan.” He talked about how his granny never had more than a cup a day and told us how we should never drink tea which is made and kept for a while. “Stale tea is equal to poison and even fresh tea shouldn’t be had any more than two to three cups in a day.” Advice taken. Watch the video below which will get you acquainted to Chef Dhuri and his inspiring story once again.