We started drinking Chai a good year ago now. Not proper Indian Chai but the well known brand, tea bag variety.
Recently however the well known brand that we used decided to re-brand their packaging, putting less tea bags in and charging more. Meaning our bag of Chai cost more than twice as much!
Now we like Chai but paying 25p a bag seemed a bit much! Sod it I thought I’ll make my own!
D’ya know what? It’s dead easy. The only downside is you have to strain the tea before drinking but to be fair thats not that much of a hardship!
You can also customise your blend to your own taste.
I roughly ground some cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamoms which I then add to some loose black tea in a teapot and let infuse for 5 minutes. That’s it done, all you have to do is strain the Chai as you pour it out and add milk and sugar to taste.
If I had had any to hand I would have added a little dried ginger (not ground though as that would be too powdery).
If you want to give it a go here are the amounts I used;
4 sticks of cinnamon, 6 star anise, 8 cloves and 5 cardamom pods
Pulse the above in a coffee or spice grinder so they are roughly ground, you don’t want a fine powder.
Use roughly 1/4 teaspoon of this mixture with one teaspoon of tea per mug of Chai.
At some point I will have a go at brewing a proper Indian Masala Chai. For this the whole spices are simmered in the water with the tea before milk and probably a little too much sugar is added.
Here is how Rick Stein recommends doing it in his excellent book Rick Stein’s India.
1 black cardamom pod, bruised with a rolling pin
15 green cardamom pods, bruised with a rolling pin
4 black peppercorns
8cm piece of cinnamon stick, broken in 1/2
4 tsp black tea leaves (equivalent to about two bags if using bags)
2tsp sugar, plus extra to taste
Put the spices into a saucepan with the water. Bring back to the boil, add the tea and turn down the heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes. Stir in the sugar and milk, bring back to a simmer for 3 minutes. Strain through a fine strainer and serve, adding more sugar to taste.
You could try making the delicious Indian sweet Jalebi to go with your Chai. Mr Stein has a recipe from the same book the above recipe is from.
Right… think I’ll go and make myself a nice cup of Chai!
Here’s a recipe for a basic chilli sauce which can be used as a condiment, marinade or flavouring for a sauce. It’s not exactly the same as my own ‘Ome-made chilli sauce as that is a closely guarded secret!
You can use this as a guide and please experiment with the type of chillies you use to get your own custom Home-made Chilli sauce.
I use a combination of fresh chillies and dried. Using dried allows you to get some wonderful flavours into the sauce for instance using chipotles gives a lovely smoky background. If you like it hot make sure you get some fruity Bhut Joloikas in there, just be careful when preparing and either wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
There are plenty of online retailers now that sell exotic dried chillies. You could try www.spicesofindia.co.uk who have a vast, reasonably priced selection.
I tend to bottle my ‘Ome-made chilli sauce in 250ml screw top cordial bottles or 500ml crown capped beer bottles, if you do the latter just make sure it’s clearly labelled to avoid any nasty shocks!
Please experiment and have fun with this recipe. Whatever chillies you use you will end up with something that is not only unique to you but also a far superior product than shop bought chilli sauce.
Not Quite ‘Ome-made Chilli Sauce
18 dried chillies sliced ( Try 8 cayenne as a base and then another mixed 10 from, for example, Amarillo, Chipotle, Passila, Ancho, Bhut Jolokia or you could just use all one type such as cayenne)
12 medium sized fresh red chillies sliced (even better if they’re ‘Ome grown!)
250ml/9fl oz vinegar (I tend to use cider vinegar but it’s your choice)
250ml/9fl oz water
225g/8oz sugar (soft brown works well but any will work. If you like it sweeter add a bit more)
5 medium garlic cloves sliced (or more or less depending on your taste)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and sliced (can be omitted if preferred)
2 teaspoon salt
6 medium tomatoes chopped or 1 400g/14 oz tin of tomatoes
Put everything in a thick bottomed saucepan, bring to the simmer and cook for around 45 minutes (be warned if you have some Bhut Jolokia in there the fumes can be quite pungent)
When cooked allow to cool slightly and then blitz with a hand blender or put in a liquidizer or food processor. Put in sterilised bottles or portion and freeze if you have no bottles.
Once bottled the sauce will keep indefinitely in a cool place. Once opened keep in a fridge and use within 3 weeks.
The sauce will make a really nice, simple chilli con carne. Just fry some onions, garlic, minced beef. Add a good dollop of tomato puree enough water to make a sauce and then your Home-Made Chilli Sauce to taste.