One of the best things about my hometown is the rich Indian culture brought over by a wonderfully large population of Punjabi immigrants.
   
In rural California, I was able to grow up with the flavors of spiced samosas, pakoras and vibrant platters of pink tandoori chicken everywhere from local parties to elementary school functions. We had nearly a dozen local Indian markets, and at age eighteen I worked as a waitress at an Indian restaurant called The Bombay Oven.
 
Cleaning off menus and ringing up orders behind a large case of mixed Indian sweets was a rare pleasure, but the real magic happened in the kitchen. A broiling tandoori oven flamed furiously just around the corner from an entire sweets making area, where the sweets cook would make each Masala Chai to order.
 
Dark, sweet cups of hot chai would be boiled quickly and strained barely a minute before hitting the patron’s table. This is the chai I fell in love with; milky, heavily sweetened and potent!
 
Now, you don’t have to get this serious, but try experimenting a little, and soon you will have your own personalized recipe! 
  
 Make your own Chai base and whizzy up a cup any time !
 
 
Ingredients:
Water – 4 C.
Cinnamon – 4 sticks
Green Cardamom Pods – 20 or so
Whole Cloves – 30 or so
Bay Leaves – 4
Black Peppercorns – 30 or so
Star Anise – 10
Fresh Ginger – A piece about as long as your thumb, sliced in big chunks
Black Tea – 1/3 C. loose, or 8-10 bags
Sugar – To taste (I like lots!)
Milk – Substitute any type of milk you please!
 
Directions for Base: In a medium saucepan, heat water and spices. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5-10 mins. Turn off heat and add tea. Cover and let steep 5 mins. Strain well and store base in fridge for 2-4 weeks.

Preparing a cup of Hot Chai: Mix equal parts of base and milk, and heat over medium heat. Add sugar to taste, and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from stove and serve!
 

Wondering where to get spices?: If you don’t have a local indian market, many natural foods stores carry bulk spices which are often far more economical than buying the little plastic jars at the supermarket. Also, try the ethnic section at your local market, you might be surprised!

 

Try this, or tell us about you favorite Chai!