Does anybody else feel as though they blinked and it became November?
November’s a fairly lonely month around here. The rain falls like needles from the sky, the once-bright leaves are now rotting, slumped on the sidewalks and streets, each day begins a little grayer than the last, and the wind starts its cruel annual polishing of the noses.
In fact, the whole depressing descent into wintertime is really useful for just one thing: honing your bribery skills. Because if you are going to ask friends and loved ones to brave the elements for the pleasure of your company, you’d better have a little something extra on hand to sweeten the deal.
Might I suggest a perfectly brewed cup of masala chai?
As a tool for luring people over, few things work better than this beautiful tea. Your guests can enjoy the creamy milk, the rich, earthy spices, and the sweetness of the many tablespoons of sugar you’ve poured into this baby. And you, the host, can now compete with Martha Stewart for the best-smelling home in North America. Everybody wins.
You are, however, probably going to have to go to your local bulk food or Indian specialty store to pick up some of these ingredients. But you know what? It’s worth it. Because you are not going to befriend the girl who lives upstairs by serving her a mug of that chai syrup extract they’ve got over at Starbucks. And nobody wants to discuss boy issues over those flavourless grocery-store-brand tea bags, either. Trust me on this one.
Homemade Masala Chai:
Per cup (as in ‘the vessel from which you’re going to drink this,’ not ‘the official measuring unit’) of chai, you will need:
- 1 full cup (drinking vessel) of milk
- a quarter cup (drinking vessel) of water
- 5 cloves
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 peppercorns
- 2 star anise
- 3 allspice
- 1 thumb of ginger, sliced
- 1 heaped Tablespoon of sugar — minimum. You may add more to taste if desired, but any less will render the tea bitter.
- 1 heaped Tablespoon loose-leaf black tea
1. Bash all the spices (minus the ginger) in a plastic bag with a rolling pin — or if you want to be classy about it, you can always use a mortar & pestle.
2. Place all your ingredients — milk, water, spices (with ginger this time), tea, and sugar — into a large pot.
3. Cook on med-high until boiling, then simmer for 5 minutes or until the milk has turned a milky-brown colour, like cafe au lait.
4. Strain, sip, and let the chitchat begin.