Chai!

 

I have a confession.  I’m not a coffee drinker.  It’s not due to any suspicious beliefs, fears or caffeine aversions.  It’s simpler than all that: I just never acquired a taste for it.  I don’t like it.  And I don’t like coffee ice cream, mocha, or cute recipe concoctions that put espresso dust on a pizza or a crab cake.  Yes, I fully understand this puts me in a hugely distinct minority on the planet. But I’ve learned to live with it.  I’ve even lived with the mortified looks and Elvis-inspired sneers of Italian and French waiters when I’ve ask for a cup of tea.

When I do drink tea, I also get the universal disapproval of many of my English relatives (and, I’m sure, my ancestors too) for drinking my tea not with milk, but black with lemon, and no sugar (gasp!).  In other words, coffee and tea drinkers are less than impressed with my beverage choices.

Which brings us to Chai, or Masala Chai, as it’s often called.  In theory, it’s not a drink that would fit my profile of a nice cup of tea.  It’s spicy.  It’s sweet.  And it has milk.  But I love it.  And it’s easy to make, too.

Chai is originally from India, and made its way around the world to the point where you can now buy it at Dunkin’ Donuts.  It’s spices usually include cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and often ginger.  I’d buy it as a change of pace, but never had my socks knocked off until I went to Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters in Hadley, MA with my chai-addicted and bike riding friend, Eric Heller.  This was the spiciest chai I’d ever had, but not so spicy that it hurt my head.  It was just perfectly balanced, between spicy and sweet.

This convinced me that I had to start making my own chai.  Eric’s wife, Yehudit, sent me her recipe, with notes from her ongoing chai experiments.  So I started tinkering with it.  And here it is.

But the big secret to making chai is that there is no secret, and no single recipe that’s considered the standard, or even the best.  If you ask 10 people for their favorite chai recipe, you’ll get 14 recipes.  Yes, some people do make different recipes for different times of day.

So try it.  It’s fast, less than 10 minutes, and easy.  And the ingredients that you buy for it will last for ages as you tweak your own favorite chai recipe.  Give it a try.  You might even like it more than coffee.  Okay, maybe not that much.  But almost.

 

Chai

Adapted from a Recipe from Yehudit Heller

1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom, or 6-7 green (not black) pods, crushed

dash nutmeg

1 heaping tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2 flowers/stars of clove

½ teaspoon cinnamon, or 1 small stick

3 Darjeeling tea begs or any other black tea

3 cups of water

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add the teabags.
  2. Then add the rest of the ingredients, except the vanilla. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, mixing from time to time.
  3. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Cool to room temperature
  4. Strain through a fine strainer or coffee filter.

NOTES:

  • If serving hot, heat tea with equal amount of milk, and bring to a simmer
  • If serving cold, mix with cold milk, and serve over ice.

Scallops with Orange, Grapefruit, and Ginger

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated

1 pound scallops

salt and pepper

1-2 tablespoons canola oil

  1. Combine the orange and grapefruit juices, and ginger, in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and simmer (Boil actually.  A gentle simmer will take too long) until the juices are reduced by approximately 3/4, or until the sauce has thickened a bit and is noticeably darker. This could take 15 minutes or more.
  2. In a skillet, over a med-high heat, add the oil to the hot skillet, and then the scallops.  Cook/sear the scallops on one side, until they turn a golden color on the bottom, and turn them over.  Add the sauce to the pan, and continue to cook the scallops until they’re done to your liking. This might just be another minute or two.
  3. Remove the scallops from the pan, and serve.

Makes two-three servings.  Jasmine rice or couscous both go well with this dish.

NOTE:  You can also do this recipe with fresh tuna instead of scallops