Wishing readers all around the globe a very Happy 2014!
In the same vein as last year, I’m starting the New Year like I start each new day, with a steaming hot fragrant cup of Chai or Indian tea.
And the flavorful cup of Indian tea coming up today is a personal favorite Parsi-style ‘Choi’ (as pronounced by us Parsi folk.)
Infused with mint leaves and optionally lemongrass, along with fresh ginger and cardamom, this cuppa ‘Choi’ has been kick starting my mornings ever since I can remember; a tea I can prepare with my eyes shut (most mornings, I’m pretty sure I do just that.)
There are three key aspects to keep in mind while making Parsi ‘Choi’ or Chai-Indian Tea:
1. ‘Brewing and boiling’ are important steps when it comes to making a perfect cup of tea, and even more so when the tea in question is any version of Indian Chai. The complex mix of spices, aromatics, herbs, milk and tea leaves, all need to infuse together for a truly flavor-packed brew.
2. Parsi cuisine’s use of lemongrass in ‘Choi’ (Indian tea) brings a whole new dimension to the much-loved Indian Chai. My recipe lists lemongrass as an ‘optional’ ingredient, to be used based on personal tastes for this strong Asian herb and its availability. Mint, ginger and cardamom impart plenty of great taste to the Parsi ‘Choi’, even in the absence of lemongrass.
3. Grated fresh ginger in a Chai offers anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting properties and is known to help fight colds and open sinuses, especially at the start of a day. For a milder flavor, cut ginger in slices instead of grating it. Also worth noting that Chai demands the use of fresh ginger root, I wouldn’t suggest adding ground dried ginger, which is rarely if ever used in Indian cooking.
Before I start on the brew, a quick note to check out the new e-books filled with well-known Parsi cuisine recipes, recently released by Rita of Parsicuisine.com. If you’ve taken a shine to the spiced tangy goodness of Parsi food, this is a must-have collection straight from a Parsi home cook to your kitchen.
This recipe appears in the April 2014 issue of Live Encounters Magazine as a Comfort Beverage.
- 2 cups water
- 8-10 mint leaves, shredded by hand
- 1 lemongrass leaf stalk, about 12 inches long, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
- 6 whole cardamom, pods cracked open (or ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom)
- ½ inch or 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and grated, or cut in large pieces for a milder flavor
- 2 teaspoons loose black tea leaves or 2 bags of black tea
- ½ cup milk of choice (see note)
- Sugar to your taste
- In a deep saucepan, heat the water, shredded mint leaves, lemongrass, whole cardamom (open the cardamom pods and put the seeds and shells in) and grated or cut fresh ginger.
- Bring the herbs and spices infused water to a rolling boil and add the black loose tea or tea bags. Let the black tea brew on the flame for 2 minutes and then add milk of choice.
- Once the Chai preparation comes to a complete boil (keep an eye at this stage so the tea doesn't boil over,) turn down the flame and simmer for 3 minutes till the flavors have blended and you see a rich brown color to the tea.
- Strain the Parsi 'Choi' into a teacup and enjoy the steaming hot brew with your favorite tea snack or draw inspiration from my High-tea snacks collection in this post.
- From fat-free to whole milk, and soy milk to rice or almond milk; feel free to use your milk of choice per dietary preferences in all Chai preparations. The recipe above provides a strong cup of Chai; for a milder outcome, increase the quantity of milk as per taste.
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