April 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
I consider myself very, very lucky to live in such a diverse community. When I look around, I see people of a myriad of cultures, ethnicities, and colors. While it’s fun to attend different festivals and such, my favorite way to enjoy other cultures is to eat their food. Trying goat for the first time, being introduced to chai, and tasting hamantaschen are all experiences that I attribute to the multitude of cultures packed into this small area I call home as well as having a very diverse set of friendships.
One of my fondest memories of Indian food is the Sunday study sessions I used to have at my friend, Shilpa’s house where we’d try to do math homework, get distracted, and always snack on something. While Shilpa’s mother tried to urge us to finish our assignments, she’d also always make us drinks and bring in a bowl of snacks. At the beginning, it’d usually be cheese crackers, trail mix, or something of the sort, but when I told her how much I loved Indian food, the real fun began. Slowly, during holidays, she’d bring down Indian sweets and my love for Indian cuisine just grew greater and greater.
It was at Shilpa’s house that I first tasted chai and I was immediately hooked. I’m a little ashamed to say I’d never tasted or smelled cardamom beforehand, but not long after I scooted myself to the Super Bazaar and bought a pack of it and started making chai at home. I know that everyone has their own version of chai, some with ginger, some without. Some use black pepper, and some leave it out. This is my own preference and it just works for me because I always have the stuff on hand.
Note: This recipe is very flexible, you can always adjust the milk to tea ratio as you like and change the spice ratios too. Trial and error is pretty much how I figured out what suited my tastes, and will work for you too!
1 black tea bag
1 stick of cinnamon
4 pods of green cardamom
4 whole peppercorns
4 whole cloves
a pinch of fennel seed
milk and sugar to taste
Fill half of the cup you’re using with boiling water and steep your tea bag in it. Then add the cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, and fennel to it and let it steep for a few more minutes. Then add milk and sugar to taste. (I usually fill the cup the rest of the way up with milk, although you can easily change this by adding more or less water at the beginning.)
I then microwave my chai until it’s boiling, because I prefer hot beverages to be piping hot.