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Recipe: Almond Milk Chai

This recipe comes to us from 2019 Hazon Food Conference Presenter Regina Mosenkis.

Recipe from What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen by Divya Alter (Rizzoli, 2017)

When I lived in India, I learned that chai is one of the “as many cooks, as many recipes” dishes. The variations are countless. I can still hear the train vendors’ loud and yowling cries of “Chaaaiiii,” but I could never produce the same exact incantation.

Chai means “tea” in Hindi. This recipe is my caffeine-free version of a traditional SV Ayurvedic masala chai that helps us digest carbohydrates and transform sugar into energy. It is especially good to drink when you want to counteract the effects of eating sweets. The almond milk is essential for balancing the pungent spices.

Gluten free; Dairy free
Serves 2 to 3
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 1⁄2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar or sweetener of your choice, or to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup almond milk

For Fiery digestion: Omit the black pepper. Reduce the ginger to 2 slices; add 1 teaspoon coriander seeds and 5 fresh mint leaves in Step 1. For Earthy digestion: Increase the ginger to 8 slices; add 1 teaspoon dried gymnema leaf (see Notes) and steep it for 5 minutes after turning off the heat and before straining in Step 1. Cool the tea down a little and sweeten with 1 teaspoon honey.

Preparation

  1. Bring the water to a full boil, then add the peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and
    star anise. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and brew for 30 minutes. Strain the chai, add the
    sugar, and stir well to dissolve it.
  2. Let the chai sit uncovered for 5 minutes to cool it down a bit, then stir in the almond milk. Serve hot.

Notes

You can substitute whole milk for the almond milk; add it to the pot 20 minutes into cooking.
If scaling up the recipe by more than triple, reduce the spices by one third.
Gymnema leaf is a bitter herb known for its ability to improve sugar metabolism.