Cookbook author Mindy Toomay's blog about eating for health, cooking with spirit, and celebrating life in northern California. Here she dishes up food rants and raves, recipes, and plenty of kitchen wisdom.

By your own efforts, waken yourself, watch yourself, and live joyfully.
-- The Dhammapada

Why not make a daily pleasure out of a daily necessity?
-- Peter Mayle


Chai bella

We are in the grips of another heavy storm, the last of the season -- or so the weather wonks tell us. It's another weekend for cozying up on the couch with cat, cookbooks, and the super-spouse close at hand. I love this kind of quiet, sequestered time, but I've had enough rain to last me a long while. We are ready for many consecutive days of sun now, oh great divine provider. Enough with the deluge already!

When it's warm-and-cozy I'm after, I think of chai, the spicy East Indian tea that is now a staple in American cafes. That storebought kind is horribly sweet to my taste, though, and not quite spicy enough. I have a friend who always grates and squeezes a knob of ginger before heading off to S*a*b*c*s so he can add an ounce of the juice to his chai. I'd rather just make up a batch at home.

Here's a chai recipe from my latest cookbook, 15-Minute Vegetarian. You can find all the spices at an ethnic market, herb specialty store, or the bulk section of your natural food market). You can even order them over the Internet. I use rice milk for this vegan version, which doesn't separate when boiled, as soymilk tends to do.

Make up a double batch and enjoy it over the course of a few stormy days. Blessings and bon appetit!

Peppermint Chai
Yield: 4 servings

1 stick (about 4 inches, or 10 cm) cinnamon
8 large black or green cardamom pods
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 piece (about 4 inches, or 10 cm) fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
2 cups rice milk
2 green or black tea bags (decaffeinated if preferred)
2 peppermint tea bags
1 tablespoon (15 g) granulated sugar (or more, to taste)

Wrap the cinnamon stick in a cloth napkin and use a heavy object, such as a rolling pin, to break it into a few pieces. Place the cinnamon, cardamom pods, fennel seeds, allspice berries, and peppercorns in a saucepan with the ginger, milk, and 3 cups (710 ml) water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the tea bags, and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the chai into a teapot or coffee thermos. Add the sugar and stir well to dissolve. Serve hot on a stormy afternoon.


At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Ivonne said...

Hi Mindy,

There's nothing like chai to make you feel and warm and cozy. I like your peppermint version. Well done!

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Pearl said...

I just have to say that title made me laugh, sounding so punny off of ciao bella.

I'll drop in more often. It's always so pretty and delish here.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Mindy T. said...

Thanks, Ivonne and Pearl, for stopping by for chai and letting me know about it. I'm liking your blogs, too.


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