I’ve become a chai snob. I like it strong with spices, sweetened with honey, and to finish it off, freshly grated nutmeg for a hit that’s warm and peppery.
I’m not a purest, and I can’t tell you this is a truly traditional recipe, but it’s kinda close. It’s heart warming, and is now my favourite afternoon pick me up. I vow never to return to the pre-made tea bag variety.
Cardamon pods, cassia bark (cheaper version of cinnamon sticks), cloves, dried ginger (also called kibbled ginger), black pepper corns and star anise make the combined spices for my version of masala chai, the classic Indian tea.
The first batch of spice mix I pounded in the mortar and pestle, which is fine if you’re only doing a small amount, it’s kind of therapeutic. When I upped the amounts of spices, I used a spice grinder. Now that was a really quick way to whizz up the spice. If you’ve got one, it sure makes fast work of the spices and possibly releases more flavour as it grinds then to a powder.
Making my own chai-spice-mix came about from volunteering some menu planning for my kids school fundraising day. As well as serving delicious food, I wanted to sell cups of hot chai. For the event we boiled the pre made spices with tea leaves, after 5 minutes infusing, the tea was strained and then kept hot. For the logistics of making about 100 cups of chai we added the hot milk as the tea was ordered.
The event, the food, and the chai were a huge success and we raised about $11,000! That figure included some seriously good art work that was donated by some of the parents and auctioned and sold for fundraising purposes.
So this masala chai is tried and tested – even for crowds!
You’ll need electronic scales to weigh the spices. This amount will make a medium size jar of the spice mix, which will make about 20 cups of strong chai, or even more cups if you like it a a lesser strength. It’s easy to double or triple the recipe of the spice mix for larger amounts.
Masala chai – my way
Make a special trip to a good spice store were you know the spices are fresh and cheap.
20g cardamon pods
40g cassia bark or cinnamon quills
20g dried ginger (also called kibbled ginger)
2g black or white peppercorns
15g star anise
Combine all the spices, place in a pan and roast over a dry heat for several minutes. Place the spices in a mortar and pestle and pound to a fine consistency, or use a spice grinder to do the hard work (don’t grind it too fine though). Store the spice mix in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
How to make 2 cups of chai
Place 2 tbsp (or less if you don’t want it strong) of the spice mix in a small sauce pan with 2 tsp good quality black tea leaves. Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water, bring to the boil. Add 1 1/2 cups milk and heat till almost boiling. Remove from the heat, infuse for several minutes. Strain the chai through a fine sieve. Sweeten with honey (3-4tsp) or sugar, and top with freshly grated nutmeg (optional).