Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chai update

Alright, I think I have the recipe down for a tasty chai--even caffeine free now (since my husband can't do caffeiene)

Chai Concentrate (8-9 cups):
3 inches (or more) fresh ginger--sliced very thinly

1g cardamom seeds (may be known as cilantro seeds depending on where you are)
.6g cloves
.3g black peppercorns
3 sticks cinnamon
1 bay leaf
around a gallon of water (normally a little less)
OPTIONAL--about 1/3c. loose black tea if you like (darjeeling or other)

  1. Coarsely grind cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle (or crush with a heavy object with spices in a plastic baggy).
  2. Combine ginger, cinnamon, bay leaf, and water in a large stockpot and turn to high heat.
  3. Place cracked spices either in a tea ball, herb strainer, or directly into the pot with the rest.
  4. Cook for about an hour at a steady boil or until the level reduces by about half. 
  5. Turn off heat
  6. If using tea, place in a tea ball/piece of cloth tied closed and steep in pot during last 5 minutes of cooking.
  7. Strain liquid through cheesecloth, a fine strainer, or a large strainer with a layer of papertowels (replace the towel when it gets too slow).
  8. Store in a jug in the fridge for up to a month, best if used in first two weeks.
Now that you have the chai mix:

Chai Tea: 
  1. Fill a microwaveable mug 1/2 to 2/3  full of the chai mix.
  2. Add milk or milk substitute to almost fill the mug (leave room for honey and cream).
  3. Add in a splash of cream to fill.
  4. Microwave for a few minutes to warm the chai.
  5. Add honey to taste and stir well
  6. Enjoy!
So there you have it, one recipe for chai in easy-to-make large quantity. I keep a supply in the fridge at all times now that it has gotten cool outside (and inside for that matter).  Yes, you can scale down the recipe and make it cup by cup, but it tastes so much better if it has time to sit and concentrate...and it is much easier to make a big batch.

If you are wondering where you can buy ginger, I suggest looking in your neighborhood grocery store's vegetable section, hidden amongst bulk items and herbs.  Failing that, you can go to Whole Paycheck or other natural food stores (which I lack here in the middle of nowhere) and ask there.

As far as using dried ground spices... you can technically make it work, but it is a pain in the arse and makes straining the liquid very difficult. The flavors also do not come out well, if at all, especially in the case of the cardamom and ginger.

And lastly, this is a chai recipe that is only a suggestion for you to start with and alter as you see fit. Many people add in fennel for a licorice flavor, or omit the bay leaf, or add in vanilla, or sweeten during cooking, or add milk during cooking. This is only a place to start and is the easiest form of tasty chai that I have found so far that fits both my tastes and those of my household... and my budget.

If these spices start to smell familiar to those who eat curry, they should. I take a small amount of the same spices and toast them in a dry pan before sauteeing my onions and garlic when making a vat'o'curry. Very tasty.

Hope you all have a nice safe and tasty Thanksgiving Day soon! I hope to post a few times on various GF desserts or sides that I am making for our local get-together, with pictures...but that depends on how much time, energy, and overall usefulness I have.  I intend to try out a new flour that I just bought: Modified Tapioca Starch. It is supposed to give GF foods a texture like gluten--minus all those nasty gastro-intestinal side effects of gluten.

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