During our October meeting, I promised a friend I would make some Masala Chai for the November 17th meeting. So today, I thought I would post a bit of information and a recipe for this wonderful drink. Not only is Masala Chai tasty, it is medicinal too! And when you make it, your home smells of the fragrant spices your are cooking with.
Masala Chai is the most delicious drink on the planet. Well, wine is the most delicious, then Chai. Masala Chai is a decoction of aromatic spices mixed with milk and sugar. This pungent, spicy, and sweet drink is the drink of India. Indians drink Chai like Coloradoans drink water, or IPA. While I was roaming the streets of Mumbai back in 2014, it was commonplace to see a group of men on a street corner huddled around a big silver pot of steaming chai. Even on the warmest of days, they seemed to be drinking Chai morning, noon and night.
In any basic recipe, Chai consists of a mixture of clove, cinnamon, cardamom black peppercorn and ginger. I add fennel seed, even allspice sometimes. There is no exact recipe for Masala Chai. The combination of these spices makes quite the medicinal drink. As an herbalist, I would consider Masala Chai a warming, stimulating, digestive drink. These spices help the belly digest after a large meal, they bring circulation to all parts of the body, and they mayhelp ease inflammation and introduce more anti-oxidants into our system. This is the perfect winter time drink!
Some recipes ask to grind up spices and add to milk, then heat. The theory behind this may be that the fat in the heated milk may help release the beneficial, fat soluble constituents in the spices. Other recipes call for the spices to be added to water and brought to a near boil, then add milk. This method makes sense to me because this is a decoction, or an extraction. And I would rather bring water to a boil for a longer period of time than milk. Also, take note of the amount of spices used. I like a very spicy chai, so I tend to add a bit more clove and ginger than a recipe calls for. Remember below is a basic recipe, double up on spices if you feel your Chai is a bit lackluster. The preferred Black tea for this recipe is Assam Tea, but any black tea will do. Chai calls for whole milk and quite a bit of sugar. If you are watching your calories or cholesterol, perhaps you use a 2% milk and less sugar. If you don't have whole spices, use ground. Basically make it yours. And if you want consistency, write down exactly what you measured up, and adjust as needed for the next round of Chai brewing. Enjoy!
4 clove buds
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon for fresh ginger (diced)
1/8 teaspoon for fresh black pepper
1/2 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 black tea bags
3 cups of water
In a mortar, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon, or use a coffee grinder.
Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, add the water, ginger and pepper and bring to a boil.
Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and add the tea.
Cover and let steep for 3 minutes.
Stir the chai, then strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups.