Those leisurely Sunday mornings…lingering around in your favorite pajamas…slow beats vibrating softly through speakers…sun’s rays beaming in through the windows and pulling on those lethargic, sluggish strings to move on out…while the spirit snoozes under the aroma of cardamom, fennel and ginger brewing atop the stove.
Ginger to heat the body, which has been dormant under the night sky, sweet cardamom to activate love, awaken the lungs, dissolve mucus and cooling fennel to lighten the body of excess air and water. All three igniting the digestive fire, supporting movement and tantalizing the spirit through their aromatics. Masala chai Sundays are pure joy.
For the past couple of months, I’ve made it a spring ritual. Minimal ingredients, effort and three spices that are available in my spice cupboard at all times. This masala chai recipe is my current go to. It’s less milky, thus, less heavy than an autumn chai. For a little extra pep with each step!
Warming | Cardamom, Fennel & Ginger Chai
a simple 3-spiced tea recipe, made with cardamom, fennel and ginger spices to boost digestion, aid with water retention. On the lighter side, it's perfect for winter and spring
- 4 cups water
- 8-10 slices ginger thinly cut
- 5-6 pods cardamom crushed into powder
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp raw sugar or succanet or to taste
- 2 tsp black tea leaves strong or 3-4 tea bags
- 1/2 cup cow's milk* homogenized or raw
- pinch cardamom powder opitional
Using a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom pods to open them and crush the seeds into a powder. Cut the ginger into very thin slices to extract the flavors quicker (or crush the ginger in the mortar and pestle with the cardamom).
In a 1-2 quart stainless steel pot bring the water and all three spices to boil with the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer covered, until two-thirds (a little more than half) of the spiced water remains —or simmer until 1/2 the water remains, if you want a stronger flavor and a more milky chai.
Add in the loose tea or tea bags and pour in the milk and bring the chai to a boil. Once it begins to boil or rise, lower the temperature a bit, let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Until you have a nice rich color —the color will shift from a grayish brown to warmer brown. That's when you know it's done! Add a pinch of cardamom powder to finish it off, strain and enjoy.
- reduce ginger to 1/2 inch, if you want a less spicy tea.
- If additional sugar is needed add it to the cup individually. Sugar like salt, will bring out the flavor of the spices and balanced the heat of the spices. If you have more of a vata or pitta constitution a little extra sweet is not a bad thing —enjoy you chai.
- Caffeine-free option: use tulsi or holy-basil instead of black tea. Tulsi will add a spicy peppery note. It can also be added as an additional flavoring at the time the tea is added. When using tulsi use a nut or seed milk versus cow's milk. Tulsi and milk are combinations, ancient ayurvedic texts say are incompatible
- Milk: I have not made this chai recipe with a non-cow's milk, if using a nut or seed milk measurement and tastes may vary.
- Make ahead masala chai: the decoction can be made in advance and will keep well in the fridge for a least a week. The more the spice and water mixture is reduced the stronger the decoction. When ready to drink, warm up the decoction, then add the tea and milk.