As food-bloggers, in our quest to cook exotic food, we tend to give a miss to some of the everyday food, that are simple to cook and very satisfying. These everyday foods are staple in most households, dished out day-in and day-out, and as one starts to find their footing around the kitchen, these are the dishes that they first foray into. These dishes make or break a person’s interest in cooking and hence, although rarely given their due, play a very pivotal role. In this series, Freshmen Cooking, I hope to bring attention to these dishes. Also, I am hoping this will help kindle interest to cook in all those non-foodies out there 🙂
The idea for this post was triggered by an email conversation that I had with a friend – she wanted to know how do I prepare chai (the milky Indian version of tea), do I use any special tea leaves or spices? Her complaint was that her attempt at preparing chai was not as fruitful, and she wanted to know a fool-proof way of making chai with exact measurements. I immediately replied to her mail with instructions and used to eye-balling, I found this a little challenging. This set me thinking – how many times when I first ventured into the kitchen, have I pestered my mom to give me exact measurements – how much tamarind do I need for sambar or how much salt should I add to rasam? We all go through that stage, when as beginners we need exact measurements and instructions and slowly graduate to eye-balling 🙂 That is when I realized that for every foodie out there, there are probably 1000 (if not more) others that are novices, who have no idea about cooking and they would need recipes that are easy and simple to prepare, not laborious ones that will scare them away for life. The motivation for this series is to chronicle easy, simple, everyday food that will make cooking a pleasure and get people interested enough to venture into the exotic territory 🙂 Let’s begin cooking!
As a thank you gesture to my friend who set me thinking in this direction, I decided to write the first post in this series on, hold your breath, making chai.
This will make gingery chai for one person, scale it up as per the amount required:
- Start boiling 1/2 cup of water over stove top.
- Add 3/4 teaspoon tea leaves to this water, you don’t have to wait for the water to boil. As the water is getting heated up, you can add the tea leaves. Add as much sugar as you want – start with about 1/2 tsp of sugar – if need be, you can add more later.
- Take about 1/4″ piece of ginger and mince it well. Add this minced ginger to the now-boiling tea water. Also add a small bit (1/4″ perhaps) of cinnamon and 1 clove – both slightly crushed in a mortar and pestle.
- By now, the water should be boiling – add 1/2 cup of milk at this stage.
- When the milk starts to boil and raise, simmer the gas to medium heat.
- Let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Strain and enjoy your hot cuppa chai 🙂
This is a slightly milky chai, which is how I prefer. If you find it too milky (or less milky), experiment with the milk:water ratio.
- Cardamom chai: Instead of adding ginger, crush a piece of cardamom along with cinnamon and clove.
- Spicy chilly chai: Instead of ginger, add one whole chilly (I prefer the red-variety over green in chai). For a spicier chai, crush the chilly slightly before adding to the water.
- Peppery chai: Along with ginger, add a lil bit of crushed black pepper. This is very soothing for the throat and especially good when ailing from cold and nasal congestion.
- Vanilla Chai: If you feel adventurous, add 1/2 pod of Vanilla bean instead of ginger to the water. For a stronger flavor, split open the pod, scrape out the seeds and add this to the water.
- No milk chai: After the water with tea leaves and spices (no sugar) comes to a rolling boil, let it simmer for couple of minutes and turn it off. Add some honey and lemon juice and have a relaxing cup of no milk chai.
These are some of my favorite spins on chai. So dear readers, have you experimented with chai and if yes, what is your favorite way to drink chai?