Fall weather is beginning to really set in around here. For me, the moment a hint cold weather shows up, or the first sprinkling of rain happens, I’m like “Ok, its winter and therefore I need lots of soup and hot drinks and hibernation”. Unfortunately hibernation isn’t really an option (gee thanks evolution), and I haven’t yet had the chance to make a soup quite up to standard enough post. But what I do have to share is (in my opinion) even better. Chai. (Masala chai specifically – for the longest time I just called it ‘chai’ and then someone pointed out that just means ‘tea’. Now I know.)
I’ll admit that a homemade hot chocolate is pretty great, but my favorite hot drink is without hesitation chai. It is one of those things that is amazingly easy to make while also being delicious and healthy too – all it is is a combination of spices and milk thats heated up until it forms this magical, amazing drink that tastes like happiness and fall and cozy nights by the fire. (Wow that was a long sentence…. good thing my english teacher isn’t reading this!)
The one thing that makes chai a bit of a hassle is the spices. Most recipes call for a variety of whole spices, since thats how its traditionally made, but my spice drawer isn’t as extensive as it could be and doesn’t contain whole cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom pods. So for the longest time I only had chai at coffee shops, from a carton, or if I was really lucky made with a chai mix from our local farmers market. But recently I tried making chai from scratch, substituting dry ground spices for the fresh or whole ones. I had low expectations, but when I took a sip it was AMAZING – just as flavorful as the stuff I’d had made from whole spices. And now its one of my go to recipes!
If you happen to have whole or fresh spices around, I’m sure that would be just as good too, so I’ve included the whole spice amounts too. You can also simmer in the first step for less if your in a rush, or longer for spicier chai. Even traditionally, chai varies from place to place, so if your missing a spice or have something you’d like to add – go for it! Either way, enjoy.
An easy, flavorful and traditional chai made with everyday dry spices for maximum simplicity.
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 tsp cinnamon (or one stick)
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp fennel seeds or pollen (optional)
- ½ tsp coriander
- ½ tsp ginger (or two slices)
- 3/4 tsp cloves (or 8 whole)
- 1/4 tsp cardamom (or 4 whole pods)
- 3 cups milk or nut milk of choice
- 4 bags (or 4 tsp loose) black tea
- 1-2 tbs maple syrup
1. Add water and spices (not the tea) to a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Add milk and sugar and once again bring to simmering.
3. Remove pot from heat and add tea. Let steep for 3-5 minutes, then strain and serve.