At a friend’s party many, many moons ago, I met an awesome soul named Erika whose enthusiastic story-telling ended up included the statement that she had started a YouTube challenge for herself, based entirely on her complete lack of interest in cooking. Now, I understand that not everyone is into the same things. I, for example, despise running, an activity which (apparently) many people find energizing, restorative, therapeutic, etc. I can extrapolate from here that while I happen to enjoy spending time in the kitchen noodling around, and stocking my world with tasty things I’ve made… that might not be for everyone.
So I was particularly impressed when Erika, who suddenly found herself with a gift subscription from a friend to a year of Bon Appetit, decided to face down her kitchen and choose one dish out of the magazine each month, cook it, serve it for dinner, and share the experience with the world. You can watch her year from the start here.
The point of this ramble is to say that I really enjoyed Erika’s vlog (if you will) of her cooking challenge, and now that 2015 is wrapped up*, I’ll miss it. So much so that I decided to celebrate her year of culinary daring by trying out Bon Appetit’s chai recipe as a small, admittedly not very summery, nod of appreciation to Erika and her awesome yoga-strewn efforts.
* What’s that? It’s June? Yes, I know. In the same way that I generally catch up on TV shows in little binges, I also catch up on my YouTube channels in similar fashion. Stop judging me.
This recipe was tempting me for a couple reasons. Firstly: I love chai. It doesn’t matter that it’s June and we’re in the tail end of a mini-heat-wave. I’m perpetually cold (when indoors anyway), and I love the creamy, spicy warmth of chai. I do have my own go-to recipe (see below), and I was curious to see how the BA version would compare. Secondly: maple. Yes, there is maple syrup in their version. I’ve only ever sweetened my chai with honey or cane sugar so… yeah. MAPLE.
How did it go?
Well, it was a little finicky by my standards. You heat the water with the ginger and cinnamon, letting it infuse, take it off the heat to let the tea and cardamom steep, then throw the milk and syrup in, bring it back up to a foamy, delicious-smelling boil, then take it off the heat again and let it sit for a while before straining and drinking. Other differences? My version calls for more spices (namely cloves and peppercorns), less milk and less tea (like less than a quarter of the tea). Also with mine, you can huck everything (except the milk and sweetener) in from the beginning, let it all get fragrant and chai-ey, then add in the milk toward the end, again letting it come back to a foamy almost-boil before straining.
Same basic idea, a little more finesse in the Bon Appetit version, I guess.
The end result was a chai that I’m pretty much adopting as my chai recipe going forward. It was delicious. As much of a pain as grating the ginger was, this chai had so much more warmth and spiciness than my usual — even though I normally sliced up about twice as much ginger as called for here. In the future, I’d reduce the amount of syrup: the maple adds an amazing caramelly flavour but it was coffee-shop sweet which is too much for me, and given my racing pulse by the end of the mug, I will probably dial back the amount of tea leaves as well. This will likely have the unfortunate side effect of making my future chais a little paler in colour (there’s something beautiful about the rich, cafe au lait colour of a tea-heavy chai!) but probably wise given my normal daily intake of caffeine (read: almost none).
Whooo! Happy discovery for colder weather! For those interested in my “traditional” chai recipe, here it is — as gleaned from my first yoga teacher training, the “Yogi tea” recipe:
- 10z of water
- 2 slices (or about 5 if you’re me) fresh ginger
- 3 cloves
- 4 green cardamom pods, cracked
- 4 black peppercorns, cracked
- 1/2 stick of cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp black tea
- 1/2 cup of milk
- sweetener to taste
Put everything but the milk and sweetener in a smallish saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the colour is fairly deep and it smells delicious. Stir in the milk and sweetener (if using), bring it back up to a boil. When it starts foaming, strain and enjoy.