After all of the sleepless nights with my first, and only child, I fell in love with coffee. Coffee in the morning, afternoon, but never at night. My system can only take so much caffeine before I turn into an insomnia induced zombie.
Before becoming addicted to morning caffeine, I cherished tea. Black tea, oolong, english, etc. and this fascination lead me to visit as many tea houses as I could. While the tea houses were decadent and delicious, they could never compare to the chai recipe that was recited to me by an Asian-Indian shop cook.
I would make this tea when I felt like I needed a pick me up. Drinking it without sugar, made it a perfect companion to the cloying sweets I would purchase from a local Indian grocery store. Since I am not a fan of soda, this tea was all I needed to wake me up and give me that extra energy I needed to complete a task. Chai was my coffee before I had a child. I would purchase tea masala, but it would not compare to the mixture I made myself.
But, because of coffee, I forgot all about my perfect homemade chai.
In life, new discoveries take you away from past behaviors, actions, or interests. It’s not an accident, it’s human nature. We adapt and learn so that we can grow. Although, this is just coffee and tea I’m talking about, it reminded me that just because you learn something new, does not mean you can discard the old. It’s part of what makes you who you are. I truly believe that chai made me view different cultures and their delicacies in a different and more respectful light.
While listening to the audio book, Shantaram (from Audible) I was reminded of my love and obsession with chai tea and indian culture. I made it after listening to the 11th chapter. The tea I made was disgusting. I didn’t follow the recipe thinking I was a top chef. It was watered down and flavorless. The green cardamom that I had in the cupboard was brown and turning beige (I still used it!) and it was awful.
So, I went on a cardamom hunt the next day. In my city there are a few Indian grocery stores, and my favorite one was out of cardamom! I raced to my least favorite store, and listened to a customer complain of the high prices, but still grabbed a bag. I wanted my original chai tea, no matter what!
After two more attempts, I finally succeeded:
Here is the recipe:
- Black tea
- Milk (coconut, almond, etc)
Boil two cup of water first, then add 1-3tsp of black tea depending on your preference. Either crush a few cardamom pods (1-2. If you use more it will taste like soap, gross!) with a few cloves by hand with a spoon, or use this Mortar. Add a thumb of ginger, stir and let boil for a minute, or two. Add milk to your taste in color, either light brown or dark brown, and then heat, but dont let it boil over. Then pour it over a mug with a small strainer. If you like sugar in your chai, add as much or as little as you need.
I’ve always enjoyed this simple chai and I know that different regions in India make it differently, but this is my favorite! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and still do!