Masala Chai & Jhumpa Lahiri Stories
Remember when I said in the “About” section that I will post the occasional “splurge” recipe from time to time? Well, this is one of those times, kinda. So, if you’re on a diet of some sort, watching calories and/or carbs, this might not be the recipe for you. Just so you know, this luscious, spiced tea is made completely from scratch and fully loaded. As my parents and elders used to say back in the day, “This is grown folks stuff!” so consider yourself warned.
There are several different ways of making a Masala Chai. This particular version is my spin on an authentic taste of India – a full-bodied, spiced tea featuring a robust blend of cardamom, fresh ginger, fennel and cloves. I’ve been using this recipe since 2006 when I first blogged about it on my previous food blog. Back then (when everything was fair game as far as my eating habits were concerned) I made it with white sugar and half & half (cream), but I have since “veganized” the recipe into a much healthier version. Chai is a beverage that I usually drink hot during cooler months (though it is also delicious iced), but my craving for a nice warm mug of this tea was so strong that I broke down and whipped up a batch mid-summer. Thank goodness for air conditioners!
This tea perfectly satisfied my craving for the sweetness of these unique Indian flavors. It was also the perfect complement to American Indian author Jhumpa Lahiri‘s Interpreter of Maladies, an exquisitely written book of short stories for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I reveled in the unique deliciousness of my beloved Chai as I immersed myself in a few of Jhumpa’s intriguing stories. Both are truly among my favourite things.
Okay, now let’s get it goin’. Here’s how I made the tea.
Masala Chai Recipe
Source: My mix adapted from various recipes I’ve collected.
Serves 6 | Vegan
Mise en place:
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 inches ginger root, crushed or finely chopped
12 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon black pepper corns
1 tablespoon fennel or anise seed
2 bay leaves, fresh if possible
12 whole cloves
6 cups almond milk (homemade is best)
6 tablespoons agave (or your choice of sweetener to taste)
6 to 8 teaspoons Darjeeling tea leaves (or 6 to 8 tea bags)
Heat water in saucepan. Add tea leaves/bags, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, pepper corns, anise or fennel, bay leaves, and cloves and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, add almond milk and agave and let steep for about 10 minutes more. Strain into teapot (or cups) and serve immediately.
Alternately, since this tea is equally delicious hot or cold, if it’s warm outside or you simply prefer a cooler drink, you can allow it to cool and then refrigerate until cold. Serve straight or over ice, if that’s your fancy. Enjoy!