it gives me life (x1000)
Getting back to the weekly routine means making a litre of masala chai to keep in the fridge. It’s such a luxury to have it there for extra special cups of tea, a decadent porridge, some super opulent baking (lil bit of this in ya babka dough yes pleaaaaaase).
I’d been drinking crappy instant chai for years and one day it just hit me: I’ve already got all the ingredients, why not just make it? It’s not exactly rocket science tbh.
When you make your own, you get to use fresh whole spices, soy milk if ye fancy it (I don’t take a lot of dairy) and not a trace of instant chai powder. And it took my enjoyment of masala chai to a whole new level.
But even better than that was the revelation that I could make it exactly how I liked it.
Recipes for masala chai vary not just region to region, or city to city, but even family to family. It’s a deeply personal affair, and finding one’s preferred masala chai recipe is a very reflective process that teaches you a lot about your own palate.
Some like it mellow and sweet and comforting, a kind of hug in a mug. Some like it bold and earthy with a strong tea flavour.
Me? I like mine fiery, almost medicinal, with heavy flavours of ginger, peppercorn, and cardamom, and lighter notes of cinnamon, tea, sugar, and salt.
Below are two recipes: a very balanced one that’s fairly classic, and my preferred recipe. In reality, you’re likely to deviate from these a fair bit in your journey of self discovery, and I’ve listed some cool and funky variations at the bottom of the page if you’re feeling adventurous.
But sometimes it’s like, why veer from a classic haha?
ingredients (classic masala chai)
700ml milk of your choice
2cm knob of ginger
2 tbsp green cardamom pods
2 sticks cinnamon
3 tbsp assam tea (or a black tea of your choice)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
ingredients (rab’s masala chai)
700ml sweetened soy milk
4cm knob of ginger
3 tbsp green cardamom pods
1 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp Ceylon tea
3 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1. Put the cardamom pods (and peppercorns if using) in a sandwich bag and bash them lightly with a rolling pin.
2. slice the ginger into thin slices (don’t worry about peeling).
3. add the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and peppercorns into a saucepan and toast over a low heat for a few minutes (until the room smells like spices).
4. add the milk and water and bring to a boil, then reduce to the lowest heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
5. taste the chai, this can be a good chance to add or remove ingredients if you’re not a fan of the flavour.
6. allow to simmer for a further 20 minutes, then add the tea and allow to steep for 4 minutes (or longer if you prefer it a wee bit bitter).
7. strain the mixture into a jug. give it another taste, then add the sugar and salt (the amounts in the ingredients are a rough guide but definitely adjust it if needed).
8. serve that tea honey 😘
COOL and funky variations
1. Try with a mix of tea and coffee a là Hong Kong-style yuan yuang
2. Add rose petals (probs best not to use rose water, it’s so easy to ruin a batch!)
3. Try other spices, like allspice, nutmeg, turmeric, go crazy!
4. Use other sources of sweetener: date nectar, honey, maple syrup etc
5. Add 1 tbsp of cocoa powder!!!
what’s life without whimsy?