I have been working at a yoga retreat in Sydney’s western suburbs for the past few weeks, and, as I mentioned in a previous post the kitchen is shared with the owner’s Auntie, a long term fixture at the retreat. Auntie is headstrong and a little bossy but she has a heart of gold and her food is seriously out of this world. I have spent a lot of time shadowing her in the kitchen, learning to roll chapatis, make pakoras and blend spices. Watching her work and trying to extract important information is no simple task. Auntie goes at her own pace and if you miss something, too bad.
The recipe I have mainly been chasing down is her Chai. This spiced Indian tea perfectly balances sweet cinnamon and fennel with savoury peppercorns and cloves. It is delicate yet powerful and today was my lucky day, she showed me how to make it.
Aunties measuring system;
“Don’t use a spoon, always use your hand!“
I have converted all quantities for those of us who prefer to use spoons as a standard measurement.
An authentic warming Chai Tea
- 4 sticks Cinnamon
- 4 tbsp Fennel Seeds
- 3 tbsp Star Anise
- 2 tbsp Cardamon Pods
- 2 tbsp Whole Black Peppercorns
- 2tbsp Ajwain
- 1/2 tbsp Cloves
- 400ml water
- 400ml milk or almond milk
- 3 tsp black tea or 2 black teabags
- 3 tsp raw sugar or honey
- 1 tsp chai masala spice mix (see above)
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- Roughly break up Cinnamon and Star Anise by hand.
- Place all spices in a medium-hot dry pan and toast gently for 5 minutes, gently agitate pan to ensure even heat.
- Your entire house now smells like an Indian spice market, remove from heat and transfer to either a mortar or a spice grinder (cheap coffee grinders work exceptionally well).
- Grind to a fine powder, allow to cool then transfer to an airtight container.
- Place water, ginger and chai masala spice mix in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add milk and sugar, return to boil slowly, stirring regularly.
- Remove from heat, add black tea/ teabags and leave to steep for 4 minutes.
- Strain into a teapot, jug or straight into the mug!
Peace out tea drinkers.