On Sunday, as the edges of Hurricane Sandy were moving toward London, we felt the need for a warm and comforting drink. A cup of chai seemed just the ticket — spicy, aromatic and comforting.
I turned to two sources for inspiration: the cookbook Everyday Indian by Bal Arneson and the blog Kiran’s Cooking Club, which is a beautiful, informative and inspiring source for Indian cooking. From these references I learned the basics of chai, including the fact that one should adjust the spices to suit one’s tastes. With that in mind, and using the two recipes as starting points, I adjusted the spices to suit my liking. It took only two attempts to arrive at a recipe that I’m happy with.
Sunday’s version, pictured in this post, was somewhat weak due to using too much water, and the spicing, while good, didn’t quite achieve the note I was looking for. Tonight I made some more, to sip while blogging, and this time I used half as much water and added a star anise (I wish I had thought of that on Sunday; it would have looked so pretty on the plate!). The verdict? We were much more pleased with today’s version, and I know I will make it many times.
As for the hurricane, its effects were quite mild here. Yes, some tree limbs went down and there was a lot of rain, but compared to the devastation experienced in some areas we were very fortunate. I wish those affected by this terrible storm comfort and the strength to rebuild. And as I sit here and sip my chai, I do so humbled by the capricious strength of Nature and with a grateful heart that we were spared her fury.
Chai — My Version
The inspiration for this recipe comes from Bal Arneson’s Everyday Chai recipe in Everyday Indian and Kiran’s Cooking Club’s recipe for My Everyday Chai, here. I encourage you to adjust the ingredients to create your own version to suit your tastes too. This recipe is enough for two cups of chai.
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1 black cardamom pod
- 2 cloves
- 2 black peppercorns
- 1 star anise
- 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- about a half-inch square of fresh ginger (the first time I grated frozen ginger)
- two heaping tsps brown sugar
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 black tea bags
- 1/2 cup milk (whatever kind you prefer)
Crush the spices, ginger and sugar in a mortar with a pestle, enough to release the flavours. Bring the water to boil in a pan, add the spice mixture and let boil for a couple of minutes. Add the tea bags and milk and bring back to a boil. Be careful not to let it boil over (i.e., mine did). Lower the heat to a simmer and let the mixture cook slowly for about 15 more minutes. Savour the aroma that is scenting your home while the chai is cooking. Strain into cups. Enjoy and relax.