North Indian Chai
Here’s a little photo essay on my take on Indian Chai. Of course I can’t drink heavy sugar laden chai everyday, nor can I drink lots of milk, which I why I came up with a spicy, smokey version with health benefits! Molasses is an excellent source of calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium and manganese. It adds a rich, slightly smokey flavour. However, the black cardamon is what really lends the smokey flavour. Black cardamom smells incredibly different from green cardamom and each pod is rich with the fragrance of campfire. To balance the black, I add lots of crushed green cardamom, cloves, allspice berries, and instead of pungent cinnamon sticks, I use cinnamon bark. Most cinnamon sticks are Chinese Cassia, which are slightly redder, with a stronger, sweeter taste that most of us are used to.
Smokey Blackstrap Molasses Chai: yield 2 cups
You will need,
1/2 cup fresh water
1 1/2 cups Almond Breeze milk
1 slightly crushed black cardamom pod
4-5 crushed green cardamom pods
2 medium pieces cinnamon bark
2 allspice berries
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons agave syrup (or more depending on your taste)
2 black teabags (I prefer Ceylon or Indian Orange Pekoe–however NOT Red Rose).
Bring water and all spices to a gentle boil, steeping for a good three minutes. Add blackstrap molasses, being careful to only add 1/2 teaspoon, as more will lend an overly pungent brew. Add teabags. Stir constantly.
As brew begins to darken (see picture above), add Almond milk.
Stir in agave syrup. Bring chai to a frothy boil on medium low.
Strain chai and serve immediately. Sit and experience the exotic flavours of India. Rich, heady, with a delightfully mild aftertaste. It will beat any sugarey, chai mix from a tetra pack.
Cinnamon sticks to the left, and cinnamon bark to the right. Note the colour difference. Cinnamon bark can be found at Indian grocers, along with black cardamom. I actually get mine at the Canadian Superstore.