Bun Maska Is The Light And Buttery Treat To Pair With Chai

India has numerous traditions revolving around drinking chai, from the regional ways to prepare it to the delicacies they suggest you eat with it. One such tradition comes from the Irani cafes of Mumbai, where immigrants from Iran have been serving their signature milky chai for nearly 100 years. While this creamy tea drink is a classic in its own right, it's the unique pastry that the Irani cafes serve with it that deserves your attention. 

Known as bun maska, this soft, brioche-like roll is a fluffy treat that remains a popular complement to chai. The bread base is a remnant of the Portuguese influence on Indian cooking, who brought their distinct sweet bread, pão doce, with their colonial rule of Gao. Though its texture is lovely, the standout of this bun is the "maska" part, which refers to the special Irani butter, which has the white, airy look of whipped cream but has a distinct hint of tang. The result is a bun served with the most luxe condiment. Whatever bit of bread you don't manage to cover with the maska spread should be used to dunk in your Irani chai. 

How to bring this charming tea-time treat to your home

To start with, pick the right bread for the job. You'll want to reach for proper enriched bread, like brioche buns or challah-style rolls. Of course, if you're comfortable baking your own, consider making a batch of Japanese milk bread buns or even trying a recipe for pão doce. Whatever you choose, you need a light and fluffy bread for the job. 

Next, try to make your own version of maska, also called makhan. For a close dupe, you can make a plain white butter out of heavy whipping cream, by whipping it until the milk curds separate from the liquid. You'll take these butter solids and squeeze out the excess moisture until you have smooth, white butter to use for your bun maska. If you don't want to go through the hassle, you can obviously use good-quality butter instead. 

To bring it all together, you'll carve a cross into the top of the bun or slice it in two and slather these openings with your homemade maska or butter and serve it with your favorite style of chai. Be sure to save a corner of the roll to dip into the chai for the truly authentic Irani cafe experience.