My son's girlfriend, Nafesha, brought me a bag of her homemade masala chai powder. As I prepared a blissful cup of the sweet, spicy, milky tea this morning, I thought you might enjoy it too.
(In India, "chai" is the generic word for tea, and "masala chai" means "spiced tea".)
It's easy to whirr a batch of the masala powder so you can have chai anytime! Once you taste your own, those too-sweet, weakly-spiced Starbucks syrups will lose their allure. Like any spice mix, the freshness of the spices counts, so if yours have the dust of decades on the lids, it's worth replacing them.
1. Make the mix:
Yield: About a half-cup. Use a few generous pinches per cup of tea.
Mix by weight to make about 4 oz (115g):
1 1/2 oz (45g) shelled green or black cardamom
1/2 oz (15g) cinnamon bark
Add some of the following as you like, to make up the rest of the weight, but be sure to use clove and ginger:
Ginger, peeled and cut in slices
Mace and nutmeg (OK to use powdered)
Whole black peppercorns (hot- use more if you like it hot!)
Options: Dried orange peel, vanilla bean (these are Western additions but they're good, too)
Grind to a powder in a coffee mill or spice grinder, store in an airtight container. (It will also work to simply break the spices, but I find it easier to grind.)
Sample it and adjust; this is like sourdough starter, you can keep adding and adapting the spicing.
Shortcut Recipe: Mix Chinese five-spice powder half and half with ground cardamom. Not as good but better than chain masala chai.
2. Make Masala Chai:
Add a generous pinch of the powder per cup to any tea (black tea, such as Assam, is the traditional choice), brew, and strain. Add steamed milk to the tea in a ratio you like (I use amost 1:1) and sweeten with sugar or honey. (Steam milk in the microwave.) The drink should have the richness of a good cup of hot chocolate.
Chai for Six, Premixed
You can also premix a quart of masala chai concentrate, store in your fridge for up to a week, and just add steamed milk. This recipe, from Ellen's Kitchen, serves six. The site also has a instructions for chai for 20.
To make the base:
Simmer together for 15 minutes on the stove top or 20 minutes (total) in the microwave: 3 tablespoons ground chai spices 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 4 1/2 cups water Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons black tea leaves. Cover, brew 5 minutes, strain. You can refrigerate this base up to a week.
Heat the base, add 1/2 to an equal amount of heated milk. You may preheat milk 5 minutes in microwave - it foams. Stir well, serve with a sprinkle of cardamom.