In the Quiet Hush……chai
In the quiet hush of the early morning while the children are asleep, I keep company with ancient poets and wild mystics. The smells of their ancient lands full of exotic spices emanates from each page, while a pot bubbles on the stove making my imagination into a reality. In the pot is chai tea, and to say I love it would be an understatement!
If I am lucky, and plan well, this alone time ritual happens maybe 2 times a month and mostly on the week-ends. I shuffle out of bed before anyone else and my first thought goes to tea and a good book. Making chai became a daily and sacred morning ritual about six years ago, after too much coffee, a bad stomach and nerves, and the result has been miraculous for me. No more anxious jittery feelings, no more tummy troubles, or problems sleeping. I have one sometimes two cups of black tea during the day, it is always chai and I feel great!
The spices alone contain many medicinal properties, most of the being good for digestion, and the ritual of making it is also very meditative and calming. The ritual of making chai is one I learned from my mother in law about 16 years ago. I was young and pregnant with our son Zubin and her chai was the greatest thing I have ever tasted!
Lately I have mentioned drinking chai on facebook and here on my blog and I always get folks and friends asking for the recipe, but I never know how to answer that question due to the fact that I do it a little differently each time I make a pot.
However…..I was taught how to make a proper cup of chai, so I know I can pass that much on, as my mother in law Azra, is a phenomenal Indian cook and chai maker, not to mention artist and yogi.
Over the years I have received many bags of ground chai powder from Sohrab’s aunties made to suit their individual tastes, some super spicy, and some full of lots of cinnamon or ginger etc…. I have tried many store bought brands, mixing them to suit my taste, but since the powder does not get used up very fast I never had to actually grind my own, so I thought I had better make some just to assure myself that I could!
So without further ado, here is the Indian/Pakistani chai recipe as taught to me by my sweet mother-in-love Azra, including how to make your own homemade chai spice powder.
Chai Masala Powder Recipe
1/4 cup cinnamon pieces
1/8 cup cloves
1/4 cup black peppercorns
1/4 cup green cardamom
1 tbsp Nutmeg, grated
4-6 dried Anice flowers
3/4 c dried ginger powder
Dry roast all ingredients except the dried ginger powder and the nutmeg in a pan, preferably cast iron on low heat until you can smell the spices heating up and releasing their oils, about 5 mins. Remove them to a plate and allow them to cool down. Once they are cool to the touch grind into very fine powder in coffee or spice grinder. Now add the grated nutmeg and the dried ginger powder Mix well and store in airtight jar.
Masala Chai tea recipe
Once you have your powder you can make the perfect cup of chai tea anytime.
This recipe makes four cups.
Take a large pot and add 3 cups of water to it and one cup of milk. If you like a milkier chai try making it equal parts, any type, dairy, soy almond etc….
1/4 teaspoon chai spice powder that you just made
Plus some extra spices to make it even spicier, and infused. This is the traditional way
Add 2-3 crushed cardamon pods
1-2 small sticks of cinnamon
3-4 black pepper corns
1-3 slices of fresh ginger depending on how spicy you like it
2-3 tablespoons of sugar or more!
My mother-in-love Azra swears by adding this much sugar, if not more, and it is surprising how it mixes into the chai after it has boiled, making it almost caramelized.
Now wait for the pot to come to the boil and then turn down the burner, then bring it back up again, doing this for a total of 3 times.
Now you may add your tea bags 4 total. We like to use India tea or failing that Tetley BOLD, as it makes a good strong pot.
It is said that giving your guests of honour a cardamon pod or anice pod in their chai is a gesture of respect, and I believe it, as both of my in-laws/in-loves like to chew on the pods and enjoy them very much. Of course they are always guests of honour in our house!
Now enjoy your Chai!!