Saturday, November 10, 2012

Making Chai Masala Tea, a weekend project with countless benifets




 On the weekend I usually like to make a big batch of something to eat or drink that will last me well into the workweek. That way when I don't have time or energy during the week I can still benefit from my weekend efforts. This week I decided to make Masala Chai Tea, because frankly I have been craving it lately. And the recipe in India by Pushpesh Pant is outstanding. This book is full of amazing recipes I have only tried a few but they have all been delicious and the Masala Chai recipe is worth buying the book. I have adapted the recipe slightly to suit my tastes But I think it is the method of cooking the Chai that makes it so satisfying. The finished tea has the silky mouth feel of a well made latte. 


 Making Chai is very easy, it takes about 20 minutes. This recipe makes a lot(2.5 quarts) but it will keep in the fridge for a week.

ingredients
  • 10 cloves
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 8 black tea bags(I used decaffeinated so I could drink it before bed, or whenever the hell I feel like it without having to worry about the caffeine keeping me awake)
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar(you can add more or less depending on how sweet you want it. Substitute vanilla sugar to make Vanilla Chai tea)
  • 6 cups of water
 First off put your water on the stove to boil. Then put the whole spices in a mortar and pestle.

Just kidding, everything except cinnamon sticks, so take out the cinnamon sticks and put them in the pot of water, crush the remaining spices with the pestle. If you don't have a mortar n pestle pulse spices in a coffee grinder or blender, just try not to make them too fine. You could also put the spices in a plastic zip lock bag and use a rolling pin to crush them.
Once your water starts to boil add crushed spices and ground ginger.
Boil for two minutes.
Add tea bags(remove the paper tags and staples)Boil 1 minute.
Reduce to a simmer, simmer five minutes.
Add milk, return to a boil, watch closely as it might boil over at this point.
Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in sugar.
Strain and serve hot, store remaining in fridge for up to a week.
Once chilled it also makes a delicious iced tea, just pour over ice. Or reheat in microwave for a non alcoholic after dinner digestif.


All this boiling and timing might seem like a pain in the ass, but its easy just do it and you will end up with a cup of the best Chai you have ever had!
If being delicious and fairly easy to make doesn't sway you to try your hand at making Chai tea, maybe the many health benefits of Chai tea will.
  •  Black Tea has many of the same benefits as green tea. Antioxidants and tannins are a few of the many beneficial components in tea.
  •  Cinnamon is thought to increase circulation and open breathing, increase awareness and vitality, and reduce fatigue.
  • Cardamom is said to benefit the lungs, kidneys, and heart. It is also a mood elevator.
  •  Cloves have pain-relieving and antiseptic attributes
  •  Ginger has long been valued as a stimulant for the circulatory and the immune systems, 
  • Fennel is said to facilitate digestion. Some of the components in fennel are stimulants and stimulate secretion of digestive and gastric juices, reduce inflammation of stomach and intestines and facilitates proper absorption of nutrients. It also has anti acidic (basic) properties and is extensively used in antacid preparations.
Still not convinced! The best thing about making Chai is that it will help you use up some of those ageing spices gathering dust in your spice cabinet. While I was gathering the spices for this recipe I found a hardened old vanilla bean which I then used to make vanilla sugar(recipe to follow). Vanilla sugar could be substituted for the regular sugar in recipe to make Vanilla Chai Latte.
 Vanilla Sugar How To

The usual way to make vanilla sugar is to take a fresh vanilla bean and cut in half the long way, put it in a jar and cover with sugar. Wait a week and viola vanilla sugar. I make mine a little differently, I buy a vanilla bean or two with grand plans to make something uber delicious. I put the vanilla bean in my spice cabinet maybe use one maybe not, then discover them 6 months to a year later hard as a rock. Now at this point I wouldn't risk using this dried out bean on a complicated dessert recipe, but it still has plenty of flavor to give. So, I break it up and put it in a pint jar of sugar. Wait a week and yeah you guessed it vanilla sugar! What is it good for you ask? Many things, I use it mostly when I make oatmeal(blueberry, cinnamon, vanilla), or I add to smoothies to add a little hint of vanilla. If I put sugar in my coffee I would definitely use this there as well. Also good on grapefruit. The possibilities are practically endless.
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