Chai to Warm your BonesJanuary 29, 2011
In response to news from The North and in service to those enduring it–record cold, record snow–I’d like to help you keep warm… the tropical way.
Say what? Keep warm? Aren’t you warm all the time in Bali? Sure you’re warm the day you land. Make that hot, actually, swelteringly so. But that’ll change. Stay long enough at eight degrees south of the equator and the next thing you know you’re layering at night, avoiding fans like they’re the breath of Durga, and ordering lukewarm tea instead of iced to go with the goat satay you’re told will restore your flagging energy.
But I don’t eat goat. You do now. Haven’t you noticed how it restores your blood pressure in this heat, which has plummeted in an effort to acclimate you? And besides, the Kali Mas satay joint is near a cheap lighting store in Denpasar where you’re on your way to pick up a dozen light sockets to install in your closets and cupboards, part of an ongoing campaign to halt a proliferation of mildew on your belts and shoes. The persistent fuzz is so abundant it has inspired you to verse. (Okay, Ode to a Fungus won’t get you short-listed as the poet-laureate, but at least you amused yourself writing it.) And about that mildew on your pots and pans, it’s such a repudiation of everything they taught you about spores that you have elected to leave alone that freaky science experiment conducting itself in your kitchen.
So what about chai? You said you were blogging about chai. I was just getting to that. Nice sandals, by the way. I see you’ve learned what a chill you can get from going barefoot on floor tiles. It goes right to your bones, doesn’t it? Ginger’s a good antidote to that.
And that’s why you want me to make chai? Yes, you’re learning. That’s one reason I want you to make chai.
It also happens to be delicious.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:
1 1/2 liters (6 1/2 cups) water
1 liter (a little over 1 quart) whole milk
6 English Breakfast tea bags, or 2 tablespoons loose tea. (Orange Pekoe is fine too)
80 grams (about 3 ounces) fresh, peeled ginger, lightly pounded
2 teaspoons green cardamom pods, lightly pounded
10 whole cloves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 5-cm (2-inch) cinnamon stick
HERE’S WHAT DO TO:
Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-gauge saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. You may want to put the saucepan over a hotplate, like my rusty one in the picture above, to keep the milk from scalding on the bottom. Once the mixture has come to a boil, lower heat until it is simmering and cover. Continue simmering for one hour.
Remove from heat and strain. I like sugar in mine. You may too. And if you ever need evidence that spices are preservatives, you’ll be surprised how long this lasts in the fridge. Store it in a beverage container and just reheat as needed. Mine lasts at least a week as long as I start with fresh milk.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE: Harry, keep warm up there.