This is something we quaff every day; with some sitar int he background and little incense waft, we could be back in Tamil Nadu, in our cottage on the hills (we have a thing for cottages on hills!!!!)
The ceremony of chai, the aroma as it bubbles on the stove, makes us both feel so at home. Its up there with the smell of freshly baked bread or sweet peas in the depth of summer.
A simple everyday chai here that adds spice and warmth to your morning cuppa. You may like it milkier, adjust the water to milk ratio as you like. Namastex
The Bits – 4-6 cups
1.5 ltrs filtered water
500ml almond/ soya milk (unsweetened)
12 green cardamom pods
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches, broken in two)
2 star anise
4 teas loose leaf tea (assam is best or 4 normal tea bags ripped open)
jaggery or unrefined brown sugar (to taste)
Grab a large saucepan. Boil the water in a kettle (quicker) or bring to a boil in the sauce pan.
In a pestle and mortar, bash up the cinnamon and star anise, add to the boiling water, then bash up the cardamom and cinnamon, add that to the boiling water. Lower heat to a simmer and cover, leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
Now, bring back to a rolling boil, spoon in the tea. Leave to bubble away for a couple of minutes and then add your milk. Bring back to a boil and sweeten as you prefer. Indians love it very sweet indeed. Using a sieve (and a ladle is easiest), pour into your favoured receptacle.
In your finest cups. Smaller cups are better and more authentic, even a small glass will do (generally how its served in a proper Chai stall). Sip and slurp with relish.
Foodie Fact – Cinnamon
Surely one of the worlds coolest barks! Cinnamon is medicine. Powerful agent for healing. There are two main types of Cinnamon that we can buy, Chinese (known as Cassia) and Ceylon(which is harder to find and supposedly more refined), it is one of the oldest spices we know of and was used by the ancient Egyptians as medicine and also for embalming! It was considered more precious than gold. It was even mentioned in Chinese botanical medicine over 4700 years ago.
Containing some truly magical essential oils, cinnamon is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti microbial (cinnamon essential oil can be used as a powerful preservative), flavouring high carb food with cinnamon slows the release of sugars into the blood stream, helps with type-2 diabetes, it is a very, very, very strong anti-oxidant. Even smelling the scent of cinnamon has been shown to boost brain activity. It is also an excellent source of fibre, calcium and manganese.
Cinnamon has long be regarded as a warming spice in Chinese and Indian energy based medicine systems. This means that is you feel a cold coming on drink plenty of cinnamon, ginger and lemon tea and you’ll be fine!!!
Cinnamon is best bought in stick form, it stores well for an age. You can then crush it or grind it up freshly ans savour that familiar aroma. Once crushed, kept it in a sealed container out of natural sunlight. A fridge is best (this goes for all spices).