The origin of chai-
Despite ‘chai’ merely meaning ‘tea’ in Hindi, us Westerners have adopted the term as a short hand for the full masala mix – that is, the delicious blend of spices that give chai its delicious aroma.
Masala chai is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with coffee chains selling poorly spiced, pale imitations of this classic Indian beverage and supermarket brands offering a chai mix in teabags and powdered drinks.
We prefer to recreate the ultimate chai experience at home on the hob. The right masala blend is so subjective you’ll need to play around with the flavours to hit your own personal sweet spot!
Use our festive chai recipe below as a guide; feel free to adjust the quantities according to your mood. We’ve given instruction on how to make a chai concentrate so that you can store the mixture and use it to spice up your cooking, it’s surprising how many dishes it goes with.
Makes 1 litre
- 5 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon whole red peppercorns
- 1 orange peel
- 20 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 60 whole crushed green cardamom pods
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- 4 inches of fresh ginger peeled and crushed
- 4-6 teaspoons of brown sugar – add more according to your sweet tooth!
- 5 tablespoons of vanilla extract
- ½ cup of loose black tea or 12 black teabags
Instructions (it’s easy peasy)-
- Place all ingredients aside from the tea into a wide saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer for an hour.
- Remove from heat and add the tea. Let steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain entire mixture through a sieve into an airtight container and store in fridge for up to a week.
- Serve with milk in a ratio of 1:1.
- Heat ½ cup of festive chai concentrate with ½ cup of whole milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Once hot, pour into a mug, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!