This recipe is from the January issue of the free e-magazine, The Vegan Culinary Experience. In this recipe, Chef Jason Wyrick uses the whole spices … fennel seed, ginger root, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods … to offer the purest of flavors.
Here are some of his kitchen notes to warm you up to this recipe …
How It Works
Like many Indian foods, this one is full of small amounts of lots of spices. This combination creates a very complex tea, but because small amounts of everything are used, no one spice is stands out over the others. The pepper and the ginger are what create the spiciness in the chai while the cloves, fennel, and cardamom give it its strong aromatic quality. Oddly enough, because the spices in this tea are so strong, the cinnamon serves to mellow it out! Note that the spices are boiled first to infuse the tea with their intense flavor and to keep infusing it as the tea steeps. The black tea is added at the end because if it cooks too long, it gets bitter.
I used to drink chai tea from a package, but now I can’t. Be warned. If you make this fresh, you won’t want to go back. It’s like the difference between freshly ground black pepper and the cardboard tasting pepper from a can.
In Ethiopia, chai is called shai and in Mandarin, it is cha with the accent rising.
“Chai wallahs” are chai street vendors very common throughout India.
Black Chai Masala Tea
Time to Prepare: 20 minutes
1 tbsp. fennel seed
1 small piece of ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
6 black cardamom pods (green pods are an acceptable substitute)
6 black peppercorns
12 whole cloves
2 ½ cups water
1 cinnamon stick (about 6” long)
2 tbsp. Darjeeling (black) tea
2 tbsp. sweet agave nectar
2 cups of soy creamer
In a large tea ball, combine fennel seed, cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns.
Peel the ginger.
Slice the ginger thinly.
Add this to the water along with the sliced ginger and cinnamon sticks.
Boil for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and steep for 10 minutes, although the longer you let it sit, the better it gets. Add the tea, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
Strain mixture, discard spices and return the tea to the saucepan.
Stir in the sweet agave nectar and soy creamer.
Serve this in about an 8 oz. cup. It’s large enough that you won’t skimp on the chai, but not so large that you end up serving too much chai (too much chai can be overwhelming.) I like a light colored cup with flared edges or a colored glass, again with flared edges.
Complementary Food and Drinks
Indian food, of course! A good suggestion is to serve this with a mild korma or with veggies (eggplant is a good choice) in a rich tomato sauce. Avoid spicy foods with this if you don’t like a lot of heat as the chai tea is spicy and will thus make spicy foods even spicier!
The longer the spices brew, the better, so if you have time, allow the spices to sit for an hour or two before adding in the black tea. The black tea is the ingredient in this drink that shouldn’t be brewed any longer than for what the recipes calls.