Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Masala Chai Lattes and Other Cool Weather Delights

Three words: Masala chai lattes. When I lived in Minneapolis and the weather would get cool my afternoon ritual included a chai latte. I've gotten away from that habit while living in Austin where the weather never really gets all that cool. But lately I've been preparing for my return to the cold and a return to masala chai lattes is included in those preparations.

An aside: "Chai" translates as "tea". To say "chai tea" is redundant. "Masala" translates as "mixture or blend" especially when referring to spices. Therefore "masala chai" means "spiced tea" and is the appropriate way to refer to the beverage more commonly refered to as "chai". Add milk, and you've got a "masala chai latte". Digression over.

When I lived in Minneapolis, I bought my chai lattes at my favorite coffee shop. But now I've decided it would be better--more tasty, more green, and generally just more better to make my own. From scratch. Mostly I've been following the instructions found here at Mahalo, my recipe is inspired by theirs as well--the big differences are cardamom and I make six cups at a time, drinking one mug while it's hot and saving the leftovers in a quart sized canning jar in the fridge and enjoy it iced.

Masala Chai Latte
6 cups of water
20-ish cardamom pods
8-10 whole cloves
8-10 peppercorns
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 a vanilla bean
about a teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
a few slices of fresh ginger root
6 Tablespoons of unflavored black tea (I used Rishi Tea Organic Ceylon)


I smash the cardamom, cloves and peppercorns with mortar and pastel, smash the cinnamon sticks with the handle of a heavy metal spoon, and slice open the vanilla bean.

Bring water, and spices to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, add the tea, cover and steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain.

Sweeten with honey while it's hot. Lighten with soy milk when you drink. It's so delicious!

Masala Chai Tea on Foodista

Other preparations for my return to the great white north have been showing up in my knitting. I've been knitting with wool, knitting garments I would never be able to wear if I were staying in Austin. I recently finished the Urbanity Vest by Amy Swenson. I knit the vest with Elann Peruvian Highland Wool. And I can't wait to wear it--it fits, and it's cute.

That blur in the background..? that's Aaron Johnson.

I'm currently knitting Ribby Cardi by Chic Knits. No pictures yet, but I'm also knitting this one with Elann Peruvian Highland Wool. I'm thinking this will be the perfect jacket for those crisp Fall days I love so much. The knitting is going fairly quickly, the real challenge will be all the seaming involved, that may slow me down some. I'll post pictures soon.

I've also been designing some cool weather knits--stay tuned--coming soon: "Laze" a slouchy hat knit with sock yarn. "Adam's Rib" a pattern for his and hers hand knit socks.

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