Monday Meal: Butternut Soup and Chai

Okay, so I know we just had butternut soup recently.  But we were given an enormous butternut squash (seriously I think the thing was two feet long), so what else could we do but make something all of our guests love?

But since you have the recipe for butternut soup, this week I’ll tell you how to make chai.  This chai does not taste like the chai latte stuff you get at Starbucks.  It’s way better than Starbucks.  We have chai just about every week for the Monday Meal, unless it’s really hot outside.  Then sometimes we have homemade lemonade.  But those hot months are gone for a while, and chai is the beverage of choice.

Now, remember, we’re hosting ten to twenty people each week, so you’ll need to adjust the amounts to suit your needs.  However, it does refrigerate well for a few days, and I also like cold chai.

We use this giant teapot.

I’m not sure how big it is.  I looked on the bottom to see if there was an indication, but there wasn’t.  I’m guessing three to four quarts.  You can tell this teapot is well used by the dent in the side and the fact that it never looks quite clean on the inside even though it is clean.

We fill the kettle half way with water and put in five tea bags.  Just ordinary black tea bags that you can get at any grocery are fine.  This does not have to be fancy tea.  Maybe it would be better with fancy black tea, but heck, we go through a lot of this stuff and aren’t interested in putting a second mortgage on the house just so we can have fancy black tea.

Then add your spices: cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, whole black (or multicolored) peppercorns, whole cloves…

… and fresh ginger.

You will be disappointed in the chai if you use powders for any of these ingredients.  You’ll end up with sludge in your chai because the spices don’t dissolve.  Don’t grate any of this stuff up — just drop in the whole cinnamon stick, and the whole spices.  You don’t even need to peel the ginger.

I’ve shown the amount that we put in for our gigantic kettle.  If you’re making less, you will probably want to reduce the amounts of your spices.  But experiment.  You might like a stronger cardamom flavor, or more ginger (which gives it a little burn in the back of the throat), or maybe you’re a huge fan of cinnamon.

Next, add some brown sugar.  I think we use about a cup for this amount of chai.  Some people like it sweeter, and some like it less sweet, so again please experiment.  This is just a general guide.  I am not a Chai Nazi, nor should you be.

Please, let’s all get along.

Heat the tea (with all the spices and the sugar) on the stove until it’s boiling.  Then pour in milk until the kettle is full.  (So you’ll have half water, half milk.)  Whole milk is best to use.  Skim milk just won’t cut it, and even 2% isn’t as nice.  If you’re really feeling decadent, add a pint of heavy cream and then finish with whole milk.

Mmmm, cream.

Keep it on the heat until it’s thoroughly hot, but be careful not to scald the milk.  Taste it for sweetness and add more sugar if desired.

Remove from heat, pour into cups and enjoy!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tracy
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 11:35:10

    Oooh, I’ve always wanted to make my own chai! I definitely want to try this, I just need to find all those spices whole. Yum!

    • Karen, the Small Town Runner
      Nov 23, 2009 @ 11:59:20

      I’m not sure what grocery stores you have around you, but we’re able to get all of the whole spices in the baking section at Meijer. Meijer also has the fresh ginger in the produce section.

  2. Rita
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 13:00:25

    Mmmmmm Can’t wait.

  3. Kim
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:58:31

    I think I can handle making this 🙂 Was rather intimidated by chai so never attempted it. I love how you makes things seem so do-able!

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