Chai: All Types
I love chai. You can buy tea bags called “chai” that are black tea with spices, but I prefer non-tea-bag types of chai. My husband is particularly partial to Oregon Chai, which you mix with milk and heat up. It comes in a box.
According to my favorite Indian cookbook, Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking, “Chai is Hindi for ‘tea,’ so adding the word tea after chai is redundant. Chai is always brewed in milk, giving it that rich creamy flavor.”
I’ve learned how to make several variations of chai and here we’ll move from “most authentic” to least authentic. Different as they are, however, they all have that warm flavor of spices that are perfect on an autumn morning or afternoon. Enjoy!
Darjeeling Tea with Cardamom
from Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking
2 C. water
1/4 C. loose Darjeeling tea leaves or 5 tea bags of black tea
2 C. milk (not skim)
1/8 t. ground cardamom
2 whole cloves, crushed
2-4 black peppercorns, crushed
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4 C. sweetened condensed milk or 2 t. sugar
Heat water to a rapid boil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce to low. Add tea leaves; simmer 2-4 minutes to blend flavors. (If using tea bags, remove and discard.)
Stir in remaining ingredients except sweetened condensed milk. Heat to boiling, taking care not to let the milk boil over.
Stir in condensed milk. Strain tea into cups. Serves 4.
This recipe allows you to make a spice blend so that you can make numerous batches of chai (about 24 servings!). I’ve been making this recipe for about 10 years. It takes a little work, but it’s worth it and the smell of roasting spices is a wonderful fragrance for your kitchen and home.
5 T. cardamom pods (Not just the seeds!)
2 T. whole cloves
1 T. coriander seeds
8 2″ long cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
1/4 t. black peppercorns
2 whole star anise
1 t. ground ginger
In an ungreased heavy skillet, combine all the spices except the ginger. Stir over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add ginger. Spoon mixture into mortar in manageable batches. Pound briefly, just enough to crush spices coarsely. (You could also break them up with a rolling pin or pulse them briefly in a spice grinder.) Transfer to an airtight container for storage; this will keep about 6 months. Store in the refrigerator.
To make 2 cups of chai: In a small saucepan combine 1 C. milk with 2 rounded t. chai mix and 2 t. brown sugar (or more to taste. I use more.) Heat just until mixture bubbles at edges. Turn off heat and cover. Steep about 10 min. while you make tea. Brew a pot of Assam or Darjeerling tea using 2 C. boiling water and 2 t. tea. Reheat spiced milk, if necessary. Strain into two large teacups. Add hot tea.
Instant Chai: liquid
OK–now we’re starting to get inauthentic. I made this recipe for years and then I lost it. I had to go searching on the internet for something similar and I think this is it. Click here for this recipe. In this recipe, you mix spices with sweetened (or unsweetened!) condensed milk. Then, you keep it in the refrigerator to add to cups of black tea. It’s easy and the ingredients are fairly Michael Pollan OK’d. (Michael Pollan recommends that we eat food that our great great grandparents would have been familiar with.)
The next recipe is not OK’d by Michael Pollan.
Instant Chai Mix
1 C. non dairy creamer
1 C. french vanilla creamer
1 C. unsweetened instant tea
2 1/2 C. sugar
1 t. cardamom
1 t. ground cloves
2 t. ground ginger
2 t. cinnamon
Mix ingredients together. If you want, use a blender to grind it into a very fine powder, one cup at a time.
To serve, stir 2 heaping t. into a mug of hot water.
Enjoy. Don’t ask where non-dairy creamer comes from. (But I did…and here’s the answer!)