Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Masala Chai

I find great comfort in Indian spices. Each time I make curry a certain feeling of home comes over me. This is strange considering my upbringing. There could be nothing further from the foods I grew up with than Indian curry. The first time I made this Masala Chai at home it felt as though I had been drinking it all my life. What makes this even more strange is the fact that I have been a self proclaimed coffee addict for a better part of the last 10 years. Two weeks ago had you told me I was considering switching from coffee to tea, I would have said you were out of your mind. What I love about Masala Chai is that there are so many variations, just a few spices, yet depending on your mood it can be different each time. If your only experience with Masala Chai is that of Chai Tea Latte at your favorite coffee shop, well this is quite different. I have always seen that Chai as more of a dessert or a treat. That Chai is syrupy and sweet. This Masala Chai is spicy, warm, and comforting. I have come to learn that I like it with no sweetener at all. I am giving you the basic recipe that I started with, but I highly encourage you to adapt it to your own moods and tastes, just as I have done over the last two weeks. I will tell you that if I do use sweetener, my favorite is a teaspoon of maple syrup and I almost always use four slices of ginger. I also find fennel to be really overpowering, so really just two seeds to start. There are also options to add cloves or whole peppercorns, I haven't tried them yet, but it doesn't mean that you can't. Quality does matter, make sure you find yourself some nice fresh spices and a good quality tea. I hope you find this Masala Chai as comforting as I have the last couple of weeks.

Masala Chai
adapted from The Kitchn and Journey Kitchen

3/4 cup water
3 inch cinnamon stick, broken
one whole star anise
3 cardamom pods, crushed
2 fennel seeds
2 large, thin slices of ginger
3/4 cup milk (I used whole, but you could use skim, almond, soy, even coconut)
2 teaspoons black tea (I used Assam)
1 teaspoon sweetener of your choice (honey, maple syrup, raw sugar, agave nectar)

Place water cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, fennel, and ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add milk and tea and bring back to boil, turn down and let simmer for 2 minutes. Pour sweetner into bottom of a mug. Strain tea mixture into mug with a fine mesh strainer. Wrap your hands around the warm mug, inhale the warm spices, sip hot tea carefully. Repeat often.

14 comments:

  1. That looks like such a comforting drink.

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    1. I am really enjoying it right now. I think it is the right season for it too.

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  2. It was interesting to sample the chai masala while iI was in India. It was served in little plastic flimsy disposable shot glasses on the street and it was always men making it at a small dingy stand by the sidewalk. They put it through a huge filter. It was bracing and very sweet. A real shot of energy like an espresso shot. You could order bigger mugs of it at restaurants. I bought some tea masala powder that I just tired at home the other day. Boy was it spicy. This mix had a load of ginger in it. Give me your address and I can send you a tiny bit to sample. I'll send you a bit of "dust tea" too that we got at the tea plantation in Munnar
    xoxo Kim

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    1. That sounds wonderful. I would love to go to India and sample all the food. I'm sure I would never feel the same about the Indian food here again. Spicy sounds wonderful, I'm a big fan of spicy chai. Thank you for thinking of me. I'll e-mail my address to you.

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  3. This looks delicious! I am going to have to give this a try!

    I love chai - my introduction to it was by our next-door neighbors from India. I was a teenager, and we didn't have exotic spices in our kitchen at home, so I'd never even heard of cardamom! The way my neighbors made it was with tea, sugar, and cardamom, and I think one other spice. It was served in small tea cups and was insanely sweet. But delicious! :)

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    1. I wouldn't have know what cardamom was growing up either. We were a cinnamon and vanilla, salt and pepper kind of family.
      That is so interesting that everyone is saying how sweet it is. The thing I like about this version is that it doesn't have to be sweet at all. Guess it's not so traditional after all.

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  4. This looks wonderfully comforting and I will try the recipe. Especially when it is as cold as it is out side....Minus 8 as a high tomorrow means I will be drinking tea instead of going for walks with my baby girl.

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    1. sounds like the perfect thing for minus 8. Enjoy!

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  5. The masala chai looks perfect! Gorgeous photos!!

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  6. Nothing is more comforting than masala chai :)

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  7. I must say, I didn't have all of the ingredients, and I have dietary restrictions, so I omitted the anise, and used honey and this was amazing!

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  8. I love the photo. It's very comforting to look at. Think I'll go make myself a pot of tea now.

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