Spring has been highly elusive in the Pacific Northwest. We experienced our coldest March on record, latest snow ever in April, and as I type, it’s not quite sunny and hovering around 45 degrees. Yesterday it dipped into the 30’s; there was frost on my windshield this morning.
So this extension of winter-type weather means warm beverages. I’ve been sucking down spicy chai from World Spice Merchants and Morning Glory, but an excess of cardamom pods in my kitchen are whispering to me….”It’s time to make your own!”
Cardamom is a member of the ginger family, but lacks that spicy sensation. It’s strong and astringent and a little pungent with very mild minty undertones. It’s easily recognizable when solo, such as in a cardamom pudding.Â Here in the west we use it predominantly in sweet desserts: pumpkin pies, gingerbread, and the like. In other parts of the world, it finds itself in curries, teas, and as a flavoring in coffee (Turkey). Medicinally it has been used for disorders of the mouth, throat and lungs and digestive troubles. Rumor has it it serves as an anti-dote to snake and scorpion venom, but I can’t say I’d recommend that as a first course of treatment.
Freshly ground is ideal, as it loses flavor quickly. In chai, whole pods are used. Below is a chai recipe courtesy of Chef Akasha Richmond created exclusively for WhiteWave Foods. In the interest of those with food intolerances, I have altered the recipe slightly.
Yogi Chai Tea
- 2 qts. water
- 12 whole cloves
- 16 green cardamom pods
- 20 whole black peppercorns
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- Eight 1/4″ pieces of fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp. loose black tea (green tea can also be used)
- 1 qt. plain soymilk, rice milk,Â or nut milk
- Honey, maple syrup or agave to taste
Place water and all spices into a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, allowing delicious aromas to fill your home. Turn off the heat and add black or green tea (omit for a caffeine-free chai). Let sit for 15 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve.Â Return to the pot and add non-dairy beverage of choice. Sweeten to taste.
Alternatively, refrigerate tea without the addition of the creamy, non-dairy beverage and season per cup. This is an ideal method when differing, multiple intolerances exist within one household (such as a one dairy and one soy intolerance, for instance).