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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A More Indian Masala Chai

Photo by nehasingh7 on Flickr.com
I've written before about my love of masala chai. I've been completely addicted for nearly fifteen years! For most of that time, I've been using basically the same recipe, the one I adapted from The New Guide to Spices.

But in November 2011, I had the privilege of visiting India with a nonprofit group. I had chai twice a day—more if someone in one of the villages made us some! And let me tell you, it puts the bagged stuff to shame; even my homemade masala chai was kind of sad by comparison!

I spent my first two days home trying to return to Eastern Daylight Time, but after that I began a quest. I was going to make masala chai that wouldn't put me to shame if served to my Indian friends! I read recipe after recipe, watched a few videos, and finally concluded that I was doing it all wrong.

See, in India, they don't brew tea with spices and then add some milk at the end. No, Indian masala chai should be made with a mixture of milk and water, with the tea added for the last few minutes. Traditionally, the ground spice blend and sweetener are added to the liquid and heated until the milk begins to steam. THEN you add the tea, turn the heat to low, and allow it to steep.

In the end, I'm quite happy with my recipe. It's not perfect, and I certainly can't call it "authentic," but the taste really says "India." Plus, it sure makes my husband happy!


Tea Masala Spice Blend
All measurements by volume
  • 3 parts ground cinnamon
  • 2 parts ground cardamom
  • 2 parts ground ginger
  • 1 part grated nutmeg
  • 1 part ground allspice
  • 1 part ground cloves

Light and heat cause spices to degrade in flavor and quality! Store tightly sealed in a dark, cool place.


Masala Chai
Serves 2
  • 1.5 cups milk*
  • 1.5 cups water
  • .75 tsp tea masala blend
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp loose black tea*

Combine milk, water, and spices in a saucepan.
Heat on medium high until small bubbles form around the edges.
Turn the heat to low.
Add sugar and tea; stir well.
Cover and allow to steep for six minutes.
Strain and serve.


*A few notes on ingredients . . .
I use whole milk. Until my husband tried non-homogenized whole milk, he never liked milk. Now he does! Plus, I think the chai tastes much closer to what I had in India—creamier and richer.

As for the tea, masala chai needs something flavorful. My favorite is Taj Mahal from Brooke Bond, which was recommended to me by my interpreter and the grocery store owner in Kakinada, India. My Indian friends from church prefer Lipton Yellow Label. I have some at home right now (the international supermarket and both Indian grocery stores near me were out!), and it's good, too. But even grocery store loose black tea (or a good bagged tea) is better than pre-bagged chai, or (heaven forbid!) chai from packaged concentrate.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

An Unexpected Fan of Harry Potter

As has been established, I'm a geek. I love scifi, fantasy, science, gaming, reading, gadgets, and even (gasp!) math. (I used to do geometry proofs for fun, but that's not really the point . . . )

One of my fandoms is the Harry Potter universe, written by J.K. Rowlings. Now, I was a latecomer to this one. I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone years and years ago, but wasn't impressed. So I never read any further.

Then I met Roswenthe (as she's sometimes known online), and we quickly became close friends. Except she's a huge HP fan, and so are almost all our mutual friends, especially those on our forum, TechnoChicks! So after being left out of about a zillion conversations (online and offline) in anticipation of book seven, I gave in and decided to give Harry Potter another chance.

 I checked out book one and read it again; still just okay. Then I read book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and decided it was actually pretty good. So I read book three. Then book four. Book five. Book six . . . at least I didn't have to wait for Deathly Hallows! (I devoured it at light speed, though I hated to finish it.)

As you can no doubt guess, I had become invested in the story. I cared about the Rowling's characters; they are well-written, demonstrating real depth and complexity. The plot is well-developed, providing surprises while still meeting the need for a story you can follow.  I was infuriated by the injustices. I wanted good to triumph over evil.

And in the end, that's what got me. I am a sucker for the epic battle of good versus evil, righting injustices, making the world a better place. And on that score, J.K. Rowling delivers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lessons Learned in India

I returned yesterday from a trip to India. It was an eye-opener, to say the least! I learned several…interesting…lessons.

  • The lines on the road are part of a pavement beautification project and should be ignored. 
  • Water buffalo do not care how large your vehicle is, or how loud. 
  • If you're from America, you probably know Obama. 
  • Motorized vehicles have been modified so that they only operate if the horn is used every three minutes. 
  • Motorcycles and bicycles can carry four or five people. 
  • Toilet paper can be crisp.
  • Ten passengers in a rickshaw is perfectly reasonable. 
  • "No problem" can mean anything from "That's the best idea I've ever heard!" to "If we do that, the universe will implode." 
I also learned that the people of India are some of the most gracious and hospitable anywhere. We could learn a lot from them.