Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh My Chai!

love chai. It is one of the things I miss most when my health deteriorates and I must return to the very bland anti-inflammatory diet that makes up the bulk of my eating anyway. A mug full of sweet, milky black tea and delicious, fragrant spices warm my belly and my heart.

I must, however, for the most part drink decaffeinated tea. Not only am I somewhat sensitive to the stimulating effects of caffeine, it is also more likely to cause a inflammatory reaction. Recently I discovered Trader Joe's decaffeinated Irish Breakfast tea, and you know, it's pretty good. Papa even had some and remarked how good it was (and he didn't realize it was decaffeinated or he probably wouldn't have tried it).

I had read a blog post by Heather at Shivaya Naturals, where she mentioned making a chai concentrate. She has been inspired by a post on Amy's blog, Angry Chicken. She in turn had gotten the recipe from her local paper. A few days later Heather mentioned drizzling the chai concentrate on freshly made scones, and then she made rice pudding and stirred a bit of the chai concentrate into that. I had to make it.

At the market Sunday I attempted to gather the required ingredients, however, my market was out of cardamom, and from the 8 jars of dill weed stacked where the cardamom should be I surmised that perhaps the market didn't actually carry cardamom. I came home and decided to check my trusty friend, Amazon.com. While there I found something that I knew would work perfectly ~ pre-measured packets of organic spices packaged together in little tins. I had nutmeg at home already, but needed the cardamom and was out of cloves as well. The little tins are adorable and have just enough in them that I can use them before they go stale (the reason I am low on spices is that I cleaned out my spice cabinet and discarded all of the spices that were more than a year old). There are three tins per order; I can see myself giving a tin as a gift to one of my favorite cookie bakers.

Back to the chai concentrate! I finally made it this afternoon. I'm sorry I don't have pictures of the process; I didn't think to blog about it until after I was finished making the concentrate and was taking my first sip of chai. I will say that a Bonne Maman jar is the perfect size to hold the concentrate, and indeed you can mix it right in the jar if you are quite careful. I used a butter knife to do my mixing; I poured the sweetened condensed milk into the jar (not bothering to let it fully drain just yet), added the spices, mixed it all well, then added the last of the milk and continued to stir carefully. The jar was very full but could accommodate the concentrate with the lid on.

I, of course, used the first two teaspoons of the it right away, mixing it in with my decaffeinated Irish Breakfast tea. Yum!

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