My Favorite Chai Recipe

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I have a small obsession with chai. In India, “chai” simply means tea. In 2009, four friends and I drove down the western coast of India from Mumbai to Trivandrum. Chai was always on my mind. Every new destination was a new place to stop for another tiny cup of chai.

After safely making it to Pune after that epic two-week road trip, the next 6 weeks were spent studying Ayurveda with my beloved teacher, Dr. Lad. One day, after driving back from the farm where we would see patients in a rural clinic, the most incredible thing happened. I was given a private chai lesson by Dr. Lad, in his home! As students, we rotated who got to drive with Dr. Lad back from the farm and on this day, I don’t remember the circumstances, it was just me.

I got the best chai making lesson of my life. Dr. Lad made four cups of chai, one for me, one for him and one for each his two drivers. To figure out how to make the perfect amount of chai, measure out milk and water using the mug you plan to drink from. In this case, Dr. Lad filled the cup with water twice and with milk twice, equaling out to four cups of liquid. I do the same at home and my husband is always happy to drink the second cup of chai.

What you need

1 inch chunk of fresh ginger root (you can add more if you want it be more gingery)

1 cup of whole milk or milk alternative

1 cup of water

a few pinches of ground cardamom

2 black tea bags (or 2-3 tsp. loose black tea)

sweetener to taste- raw sugar, honey, maple syrup or whatever you like

What to do

Serves 2

Choose your mug that you plan to drink your delicious chai from (no need to dirty a measuring cup here).

Fill mug with water and pour into small pot. Then fill mug with milk and pour into small pot. Add a few pinches of ground cardamom.

Bring milk to a boil, and then quickly turn off heat. It is best to keep an eye on the pot because once it boils it can quickly overflow. I’ve made this mistake one too many times!

While milk and water are heating up, grate the ginger on a cheese grater or microplane*.

Tip: To peel ginger, use the edge of a spoon. In fact, is not necessary to peel the ginger since you will strain it anyway, but I usually do. 

Once milk has boiled, turn off the heat.

Add grated ginger, black tea and a teaspoon (or two) of sugar/sweetener of choice. Let this steep together for 2-3 minutes. Stir and strain into cups with a small strainer.

Sip and enjoy!

*Dr. Lad used a mortar and pestle, not a microplane. He simply smashed the chunk of ginger up which took all of 30 seconds and left almost nothing to clean. I don’t have a mortar and pestle, which is why I use a microplane. I used to chop the ginger finely with a knife, but I don’t have the patience for that anymore. The microplane ends up producing a spicy, gingery cup of chai as the ginger juices are easily released in the grating process.

You can do it!

·      This may feel like a lot of work the first few times that you make it, but once you get down the rhythm it is simple to make and easy to clean!  

·      Both the ginger and cardamom make the milk easier to digest and promote optimal digestion in general. Chai is a delicious and supportive way to start the day!

·      The simpler, the better. One time I wanted SUPER gingery chai, so I went to the trouble of juicing the ginger and then added it to the cold milk and water mixture. After all the trouble and dirty juicer, the milk curdled! I learned the hard way that ginger juice will react with cold milk, hence the curdling. To avoid this, simply follow the directions and add the freshly grated ginger to the milk and water once it’s already boiled.

To Your Health!