Friday, February 5, 2010

Chai and Spicy Rock Cakes

I'm finishing this week's series of posts on cooking with Indian spices with a stove-top recipe for spicy chai tea.

Last fall, I wrote about brewing your own aromatic teas with herbs from the garden and spices from the cupboard and chai was one of the teas I featured.

Today's chai recipe is a variation on the one posted in September, though it comes from the same source, my friend Cindy, who is very talented and adept cooking with Indian spices.

Yesterday, I talked about improvising and experimenting with all the recipes posted this week since that's the beauty of using spices; you can add and subtract this and that creating just the flavor you desire.

Chai is a spicy, milky tea which is usually sweetened; however it doesn't need to be spicy, milky or sweet. Experiment with the following recipe and create a tea to your liking.

Chai Tea
1. In a saucepan bring 6 cups of water to the boil.
2. Add 1/2 cinnamon stick (2nd bowl from the back in pic above).
3. 6 to 10 whole cloves (2nd bowl from the front in pic above).
4. 10 to 15 smashed cardamom pods, including seeds (bowl at the very back in pic above).
5. About a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger (bowl at the very front in pic above).
6. About the same of fennel seeds, plus a few black peppercorns and if you have them, a few allspice berries (not seen in pic above).

1. Simmer ingredients on low for about 10 mins.
2. Add 5 cups milk (you could use dairy or nut or grain milks) and simmer on low.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of black Assam tea or Darjeeling or both -- vary amounts depending on how strong you like it. Or instead of black tea, you could use your choice of green tea or Rooibos aka red bush tea.
4. Turn heat off and allow tea to infuse with milk and spices.
5. Add your choice of sweetener to-taste such as honey, maple syrup, agave, cane sugar, maple sugar, date sugar etc.
6. Strain chai into cups. The above recipe makes about 8-10 cups.

Chai is a delicious ending to an Indian meal along lines of the meal featured this week. To accompany your home-brew chai, you might like to make spicy rock cakes.

As with the chai experiment with adding the spices of your choice to create just the cookie-flavor you want.

Spicy Rock Cakes
1) Into a mixing bowl add one cup of your choice of flour. I used brown rice flour.
2) Add a pinch of salt, one teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a pinch of ground cloves.
Note: You could add ground cardamom, ginger, fennel, allspice instead of the spices listed above -- experiment.
3) Take a stick or 4 ounces of butter and rub it into the flour and spices until the mix resembles bread crumbs.
4) Add half a cup of raisins, half a cup of chopped dates and half a cup of chopped walnuts. (Optional: Add 1/4 cup of sugar or orange marmalade.)
5) Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in an egg which has beaten with 2-3 tablespoons of milk (dairy, nut or grain).
6) Mix all ingredients with a fork, adding more milk if the mix is dry or more flour if the mix is too wet.
7) Drop spoonfuls onto a greased tray and bake for about 15 -20 mins in 350-degree oven.

Buying and Storing Spices
Keep in mind when buying Indian spices that you can pick and pay for as little as a teaspoon or as much as a pound if you buy spices in the bulk aisle at say Whole Foods or your favorite organic grocer.

You want to select spices sourced from wholesalers who've sourced their spices from reputable growers. Growers who've avoided using herbicides and pesticides since these will alter the spice plant's properties and thereby the flavor and medicinal attributes of spices.

Once home, spices are best stored in glass where they will last up to 2 years, though ground spices are best used within the year.

1 comment:

Louise Ross said...

I'm posting this comment from Cindy, who conducted the Indian cooking class:

Thanks, Louise you captured so much awesome information! I am thrilled to see you take our combined wisdom and make so much of it and share the basics of Indian cooking and spices in such a user friendly way! Love the photos and tips!