Ever Heard Of This Irani Café Chai-Coffee Mix Called ‘Market’?
Image Credit: Battersea Power Station

Enjoying a cup of milky sweet Irani tea with fluffy bun maska is an Irani café experience in the city of Mumbai that can be considered unmissable. These quaint spaces, serving small plates that could also double up as meals, are known for their porcelain cups of tea and coffee that have a fan following of their own. What is essentially known to be an inexpensive refreshment option, diners at various Irani cafés around Colaba would want a double hit of caffeine – but without having to pay for two separate beverages.

The phrase ‘ek chai, coffee maarke’ became a way of customising one’s cuppa to have the flavours and potency of both – tea leaves and coffee powder. This process of brewing a cup of ‘market’  - or maara maari – usually involved starting off by adding tea leaves to boiling water, before a spoonful of coffee powder was tossed in. Finishing it with the typical flourishes of milk and sugar before it was strained, the deep brown beverage was ready to go. Whether or not the drink found its origins in the metropolis is unknown, however, it sure did find many endearing terms of reference in other regions where this was appreciated.

Intersections can be made with a beverage known as chaapi in Kerala – a blend of chaaya and kaapi  that one could find at tea shops. Made with a 1:1 ratio, the exact flavours of the market are hard to describe. Similarly, the chafee from Tripura, Odisha and Kolkata has been known to have a potent flavour, going on to also be appreciated in countries like the USA, UK and Hong Kong. America’s ‘dirty chai’ sees a slight shift in coffee usage, where the powder is swapped for a shot of espresso in hot and cold versions.

Image Credits: Cafés MamaSame

The smooth and milky texture of the drink, with aromas from chai spices and flavour from coffee, make it a beverage that serves as an energy booster. South East Asian countries like Hong Kong and Macau also share a love for the market in the form of an ice cold beverage called the yuenyeung. Created by mixing brewed coffee, black tea, milk and sugar, or three parts of coffee with seven parts of Hong Kong-style milk tea, interestingly enough has a caffeine-free version for children – made with Horlicks, Ovaltine and malted milk. The yuenyeung also became popular during the time when the global coffee chain, Starbucks launched a frappucino by the same name.


  • 100 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon tea leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coffee powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ tablespoon sugar


  • Pour the water into a saucepan and bring to boil before adding in the tea leaves and sugar.
  • Brew for a minute before adding the coffee powder and allowing it to simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the milk and bring to a boil before straining into a cup. Serve hot with bun maska.