The ability to make ‘good chai’ is a very important thing in India – many mothers will work a lifetime to create and re-create their own chai concoction, and pass down the secret recipe through the family. When you taste how nourishing and comforting it is – not to mention healthy and absolutely full of benefits for the digestive and immune systems – you’ll understand why this has basically become a staple in my house throughout the Winter months….
The warming spices naturally lend themselves to a Christmassy atmosphere, and this recipe in particular will fill the house with scents of cinnamon, cloves and Christmas. When it comes to the festive season, there’s basically three things a house should smell of; anything ‘roast’, something ‘mulled’, and lots of ‘spiced’ stuff too.
This chai definitely covers the essential Christmas element of ‘spiced stuff’, and it’s also healthy – which is a good thing considering most other food and drink around at this time of year isn’t! The spices used all play an important role in aiding digestion, reducing inflammation, providing antioxidants, detoxifying the body and even reducing pain. Sounds like a cure for those Christmas parties….
Black tea is full of antioxidants, ginger aids digestion, boosts the immune system and reduces levels of inflammation, while cardamom helps to detoxify the body and can be found in most Eastern medicinal formulas. Cinnamon balances blood sugar and is another digestive aid, and cloves are pain relieving and provide yet more digestive power. Studies have shown that black pepper may help to prevent fat storage in the body, and also has effective antibacterial and antioxidant properties, to round it all up – star anise helps the body resist types of bacteria and infection, useful for the cold and flu season.
This recipe makes 5 cups, so double the recipe if you’ve got relatives heading over – they’ll want seconds!
Once you’ve made this recipe, play around with ingredients to find different tastes; I know a lot of people who use mint leaves and bay leaves in chai, as well as adding fennel seeds
Ingredients (Makes 5 cups)
- 3 cups water
- 4 cloves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1 inch of cinnamon bark
- ¼ tsp ground ginger (fresh ginger may make the milk curdle)
- 1 star anise
- 3 black teabags
- Add your 3 cups of water to a medium pan (make sure your pan has a lid to go on top)
- Add all other ingredients to the water except the teabags
- Bring to a boil and add the teabags
- Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on the pan
- After 10 minutes of simmering, add 2 cups of your choice of milk*
- Once the milk is added, warm everything through until you’re ready to serve
- Add honey to sweeten.
- Serve, sip and share this nourishing, warming chai!
*Through experimenting I’ve found that almond milk works the best; it retains the flavours of the chai and has a thicker consistency than 0% dairy milk or rice milk. You could also use coconut milk – anything that creates a thick consistency as opposed to a watery one is going to be closer to the authentic Indian drink.