This is a guest post from Shahla of My Berkeley Kitchen. Find more of her recipes on her blog!
If you grew up in a South Asian home like I did, most often you will find a pot of slow brewed chai simmering away on your stove. Any time a guest pops in for a visit, chai is served with biscuits or sweets.
Everyone has a different way of making chai, which varies based on region. In parts of India, chai is infused with warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger and vanilla. In my family, we make elaichi or cardamom chai. It is basically black tea slowly brewed and infused with a generous helping of cardamom and milk.
The black tea and cardamom, with crushed pods and seeds, are thrown together into a pot of water and brought to a soft boil. Milk is added and then brought to a second boil. The contents foam up almost to the top lip of the pot. The heat is immediately lowered to a simmer. The trick is to lower the heat just in time before the tea spills over. The result is a thick, creamy and comforting cup of tea.
I've been seeing pictures of beetroot latte on the Internet recently. Apparently, it is a very popular drink in Australia. I have yet to taste it here in Berkeley. Ever since I saw pictures of this pretty pink drink, I knew I had to recreate it at home. I'm not much of a coffee drinker so adding beetroot to my version of traditional chai seemed like an interesting twist.
I've added some of the warming spices mentioned above. I've also added a very small amount of rose water- too much and it will taste soapy. The rose water is strictly optional but I think it adds a nice floral flavor.
Beet Powder is all natural, made from drying and grinding beets into a fine powder. It has a very mild flavor. It is a great coloring agent for baking, such as red velvet cakes or any dish where you want to add a beautiful reddish-pink hue. You will feel better about using something natural instead of coloring gels, which are highly processed.
Here is my adaptation of beetroot chai. I hope you enjoy.
Serves: about 2 small cups
1 1/2 cups water
2 heaped teaspoons Assam Tea or other black tea
3 whole small cardamom pods, crushed (I like to use a small mortar-pestle.)
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon beet powder
1/2 cup low fat or whole milk (or nondairy milk of choice)
2 teaspoons maple syrup or sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
1/8 teaspoon rose water (optional)*
dried rose petals for garnish
Use a clean saucepan with a lid, reserved for making chai only. Add water, tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and beet powder.
Bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, add milk. Bring back to a boil, until liquid is frothy and foam reaches almost to the top lip of the pot. Immediately decrease heat to low. Add maple syrup, vanilla and rose water. Simmer for ten minutes.
Using a tea strainer, pour the tea into two cups. Add more warm milk or sweetener, if desired. Garnish with dried rose petals. Serve immediately.
* Oaktown Spice Shop carries rose water and vanilla extract in-store, but these are not available for online purchase.