Thursday, 9 February 2012

A cup of chai

Ram Govardhan's novel goes great with chai and candied ginger
A nice cup of chai and a good book*—what more is there to comfort?

A good recipe for chai takes some time.  I’ve been known to quadruple these ingredients, and keep the pot simmering on the stove for hours at a time, so I can keep dipping into it.  But if you need some now-ish, then follow these directions:

If you ever find this brand, buy it at once, and let me know where you found it!
2 ½ cups cold water
1 inch fresh ginger, pared with a peeler
½ small cinnamon stick
2 cloves
½ teaspoon fennel seed
4 green cardamom pods, husked, and finely ground with a mortar
1 teabag of black tea, or better yet, 1 ½ teaspoons loose cardamom tea
1/3 cup hot milk
sugar optional

Add the spices to the water, including the cardamom husks.  Some recipes have you merely bruising the pods, but I find I don’t get enough flavour from that, so I use the husks and the freshly ground cardamom.  I’m starting to think I have an addiction to cardamom, because I never seem to get enough of it.
Put the heat on high, and bring to a boil.  Once there, turn to low to simmer for about fifteen minutes.  This might have seemed like a lot of water for a single cup of chai, but some will evaporate.
Add the tea and let steep for five minutes, with the heat still on low.  You could add the milk directly to the pot once the tea has steeped, and heat it some more, but I heat my milk separately, because I like to compost the tea and spices, and I won’t have oils or proteins spoiling the compost pile.  It’s up to you.
Strain the tea into a nice cup.  The chai flavours are enhanced with sugar, but I prefer to add none, and nibble on a nice piece of crystallized ginger instead.  Now where’s that book of mine?

*Ram Govardhan’s Rough with the Smooth is the most intensely Indian novel I’ve ever come across.  It’s not a pretty book, but it reflects India on so many levels!


  1. I've never thought of making my own Chai tea, but I agree there's nothing better than a nice steaming cup of tea and a good book.

  2. Chai is more warming than regular tea, because of the ginger and pepper. I'm a fanatic, I think...