Image credit: Rickshaw Travel
Sipping a restorative cup of masala chai in India is a daily rite of passage. The roadsides are dotted with chai wallahs who serve the tea boiled up with spices, sugar and milk. Any visitors to India may well, like me, have developed a chai addiction during their trip and adopted the sensible attitude to 'take life one chai at a time.'
Despite 'chai' merely meaning 'tea' in Hindi, us Westerners have adopted the term as a short hand for the full masala mix - that is, the delicious blend of spices that give chai its delicious aroma.
Chai is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with coffee chains selling poorly spiced, pale imitations of this classic Indian beverage and supermarket brands offering a chai mix in teabags and powdered drinks.
I think it is better to recreate the ultimate chai experience at home on the hob. The right masala blend is so subjective you'll need to play around with the flavours to hit your own personal sweet spot!
I found the perfect festive chai recipe below; use it as a guide and adjust the quantities according to your mood - you'll find your own personal sweet spot! There's instruction on how to make a chai concentrate so that you can store the mixture and use it to spice up your cooking, it's surprising how many dishes it goes with.
Festive Chai Recipe
Banish winter chills with a homemade festive chai to soothe your soul!
Makes 1 litre
• 5 cups of water
• 1 tablespoon whole red peppercorns
• 1 orange peel
• 20 whole cloves
• 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 60 whole crushed green cardamom pods
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 3 star anise
• 4 inches of fresh ginger peeled and crushed
• 4-6 teaspoons of brown sugar
• 1.5 tablespoons of vanilla extract
• ½ cup of loose black tea or 12 black teabags
Make a Festive Chai concentrate:
1. Place all ingredients aside from the tea into a wide saucepan and bring to the boil.
2. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for an hour.
3. Remove from heat and add the tea. Let steep for 10 minutes.
4. Strain entire mixture through a sieve into an airtight container and store in fridge for up to a week.
Serve with milk in a ratio of 1:1.
Heat ½ cup of festive chai concentrate with ½ cup of whole milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Once hot, pour into a mug, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!
Courtesy of Rickshaw Travel