This recipe first appeared in our November 2015 issue of Culinaire Magazine courtesy Renée Kohlman.
The origins of Chai are steeped in Indian history and the ancient medicinal philosophy of Ayurveda. Traditionally, each family would have their own Chai recipe based on the constitutions of family members. The spice blend of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, and star anise, contains medicinal and healing properties such as relaxing the digestive tract, elevating the metabolism, and increasing waste and toxin excretion. These spices are also great for the respiratory tract. In other words, not only is this hot drink darn delicious, it’s also full of good things to keep us healthy this winter when pesky germs abound.
I used a mortar and pestle to bruise the spices before placing them in a saucepan. No mortar and pestle? No problem. Just place the spices in a resealable plastic bag and whack with a skillet or a sturdy coffee mug. Simmer those spices along with some milk and water for about 10 minutes. Add black tea (preferable a good quality Darjeeling which you’ll be able to find at any tea shop) and let it steep another ten minutes. Strain into mugs and sweeten as you wish. Unlike the sickly sweet Chai lattés in many coffee shops, when you make your own you can control the sweetness. I like using honey, but brown sugar is yummy too.
One unexpected, yet lovely and appropriately seasonal bonus for making Chai lattés at home? Your house will smell like an Indian spice market. All of those sweet, warming scents can definitely help warm a person up on a chilly fall day!
This drink is definitely a winter libation for the senses. With each sip I can instantly feel the robust spices working their magic on me. Maybe cooler weather isn’t so bad after all!