Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Masala Chai (Indian Spiced Tea)
Masala Chai is an Indian spiced black tea. I am addicted to this tea and actually crave for this in the evening like a cup of hot cocoa. The tea is infused with cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, ginger, pepper and fennel which are all great benefits to our health. The spices are steeped along with black tea leaves in water and milk; then strained into a cup. You can conveniently purchase chai tea bags in your local supermarket, but I find that the tea bags are very weak. In an Indian market, you can purchase instant chai that are sold in boxes of 10 or 20 pouches per box. I prefer the instant chai from an Indian market than the tea bags. Of course, homemade is always better. Chai is very simple to make, but there are so many variations to preparing chai, depending on the region where the recipe is originated. After a long search for or a good masala chai recipe, I decided to combine several recipes to come up with my own version. This recipe is pretty darn close to the chai I love to drink from our favorite Indian restaurant.
Masala Chai Spice
1-1/2-inch stick cinnamon
8 green cardamom pods, gently crushed to just crack each pod
4 black peppercorns
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of oven. Place cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamon pods, peppercorn, ginger, and fennel seeds in a small shallow ovenproof plate. Roast for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Place spices in a coffee grinder and process until very fine. Transfer to a small airtight container and this can be stored for up to 6 months.
2 cups cold water (16 ounces)
2 cups 2% reduced fat milk (16 ounces)
2 tablespoons loose orange pekoe black tea or Darjeeling tea (0.4 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon Masala Chai Spice (recipe posted above)
3 tablespoons organic natural cane sugar (0.9 ounce) or to taste (optional)
In a small pot, add the water, milk and tea. Cook over medium-high heat until it comes to a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in the masala chai spice. Cover and let tea and spice steep for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, uncover and return to medium heat. Add the agave nectar or evaporated cane juice, if using. Cook just until it starts to bubble. DOUBLE STRAIN by pouring through a very fine-mesh strainer into a gold coffee filter fitted over a glass coffee carafe. Ready to serve. Alternately, you can use a milk frother to give it some froth before pouring into individual cups.
Yields 2 to 3 servings
NOTE: I usually double the masala chai recipe and leave the carafe of chai in the refrigerator. Stir and reheat inidividual servings in the microwave.