Cardamom Chai

By • April 19, 2010 • 12 Comments



Author Notes: As a drinker of purebred coffees and teas, I was skeptical about chai and its maelstrom of spices, its blast of sugar. I lumped chai drinkers in with owners of tiny, transportable dogs and wearers of miniskirts with UGGs (full disclosure: I almost bought a pair last year. Almost.)

Then, a few years ago, I was writing about Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, who had just published Mangoes & Curry Leaves. And there in their book was a recipe for Cardamom Chai. I was surprised by the ingredients, which were nothing more than milk, Assam tea, freshly crushed cardamom and sugar. Their chai recipe is one they modeled on Indian chai shops, and is made by boiling the tea for a minute or so before whisking in a cardamom-infused milk and a whisper of sugar. I gave it a try and it soon became not only a personal addiction but a favorite household pick-me-up when our kids were toddlers and the afternoons were long. When I’d call my friend Elyse to set up a playdate, she’d ask, “Are you making the chai?” Before you know it, I may be buying a miniature dog.
Amanda Hesser

Makes about 5 cups, serves 2 to 4

  • About 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Seeds from 1 green cardamom pod, ground
  • 2 heaping tablespoons black tea leaves, preferably strong-tasting Assam tea
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
  1. Heat the water to a boil. In a separate pan, heat the milk to a boil, stir in the cardamom, cover, and set aside.
  2. Place the tea leaves in a heavy pot. Pour in a little of the hot water, then pour it off. Add the remaining hot water. Place over medium heat, bring to a boil, and boil for about 30 seconds, then pour the tea through a strainer into a pot.
  3. Add the hot milk by pouring it through a cloth-lined strainer into the tea. Add the sugar and stir. If you wish to froth the tea, pour the mixture into another pot, then pour it back, continuing until it's frothy.
  4. Place the pot back over the heat and bring the tea almost to the boil, then pour it into cups.
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Comments (12) Questions (0)

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Picture0083

over 1 year ago farmerknitter

what about that fancy tea strainer on the cup? beautiful! do you know where one might get one like it?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

It's from Ted Muehling -- see the second slide here: http://www.tedmuehling...

Picture0083

over 1 year ago farmerknitter

thanks!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This works really well with green tea, too! I was never that crazy about cardamom until I tried this. Just love it. ;o)

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over 2 years ago irish2heart

"Pour in a little of the hot water, then pour it off." I have never heard of this, how much water and why do you do this?

Ozoz_profile

11 months ago Kitchen Butterfly

'To rinse' the leaves, I guess. However, in Moroccan mint tea culture, you brew the leaves, but the first 'wetting of the leaves isnt discarded. It's saved, and is considered the essence of the tea. The second 'water'/brew is swirled around and then poured off - it is considered as 'cleaning'. The first, reserved liquid is put back in the teapot and then more water is added.

See http://www.kitchenbutterfly...

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

11 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks Kitchen Butterfly, and irish2heart, you can definitely skip the pouring off step if you like.

Dsc_0029

about 4 years ago wednesdaychef

That mortar and pestle is (are?) stunning. Where can I find the set? Also, thrilled to try this recipe, will make some this afternoon for my pick-me-up.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I got mine from The Gardener in Berkeley, but they no longer carry it. Here's the link to the designer -- http://www.johnjuliandesign... Hope you enjoyed the recipe!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you -- I'm addicted, as well.

_50u9297

over 4 years ago shayma

i have tea w cardamom every morning- couldnt live w/o it. i like how you drain the water off initially- i learnt that from a lady in a chinese tea house in San Francisco.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

oops -- meant that in reply to you: Thank you -- I'm addicted, as well.