Homemade Masala Chai Tea

Simple, easy recipe.

Recipie: 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp of black tea, traditionally Assam, heaping
  • 6-9 Cardamom pods, green, whole
  • 1 Tbsp of Ginger, dried
  • 2 tsp peppercorns, freshly cracked for maximum flavor
  • 10 Cloves
  • 1-2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cups of water
  • Milk- amounts vary depending on brew method.

English brew method:

  1. Mix the ingredients together.
  2. Add the contents to a large teabag and tie up with string.  Also, this is one of the few teas, a tea ball is not the best option as the small pieces of cracked pepper, and other bits will seep out of the ball making a grit in the bottom of the teacup.
  3. Make a pot of tea however you normally do with a teabag.
  4. Serve with milk.

Traditional method:

Milk and water should add up to 6 cups, after being reduced. Traditionally, one part water to 1/4 – 1/2 parts milk.

  1. Simmer the spices in water until fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the loose leaf tea. Simmer for about 5 minutes until a dark rich color.
  3. Add the milk and remaining water to have a total of 6 cups of liquid.
  4. Heat until steaming, strain and serve.

Traditional Variations:

Kashmiri Chai: Green tea (instead of black tea), traditionally Gunpowder green, mixed with almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and occasionally saffron.

Noon Chai: Brewed with salt, pistachios, almonds, cardamom, and cinnamon and a pinch of baking soda to enhance the pink color, served in a samavar, a sort of copper tea pot, and eaten with with nuts, dried fruit and Kashmiri breads if you happen to have any on hand.  Traditional served in Pakistan on special occasions.

Other spices:

  • Star Anise
  • Fennel
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Saffron
  • Almonds (traditional cooking method only)
  • Pistacios (traditional cooking method only)
  • Mace
  • Black Cardamom
  • Rose petals, (add with looseleaf tea, in the traditional cooking method)
  • Chili
  • Coriander
  • Cumin

Spices can be added in various forms: fresh or dried, whole or powdered.  Different quantities are needed with different forms, and some spices taste very different fresh vs dried. One thing to take note of is that fresh ginger has a very different flavor than dried ginger.  One thing to not is that powdered spices are hard to strain out of the tea using the traditional method of cooking and oftentimes the spices accumulate as sediment at the bottom of your tea cup.  If you are using powdered, a tea bag should be able to hold them in.

Experiment with the spices as much as you want. I like to experiment here and there for something new but often times stick to the basics.  I generally add more cardamom, ginger and black pepper and leave out the cloves as my mother cannot have them.

 

 

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Mixing Your Own Tea

I was asked the other day if I make my own tea.  My answer was, “Yes and no.” Obviously I do not grow my own tea, but I do scent my tea.  I have various herbs, as well as different types of tea which I mix. So tonight I mixed a decaf black tea (P&G Tips) with some edible lavender buds.  And suddenly I have lavender black tea.

You can blend your own teas and keep the mixed combinations on hand. This makes sense with complicated blends like chai where it is not as simple as some mixes. I personally like to keep the various parts on hand and mix them when I make the cup of tea. That way I have the most flexibility.  No directions are really needed but here they are nonetheless.

Directions: 

  1. Boil water.
  2. Add a “base” tea. This can be loose leaf tea or in tea bags. No matter.
  3. Choose any favor or scents to it. Anything edible and plant-based can be added. Get creative.  Add the amount you think will work. You can always tweak later.
  4. Brew until the strength is to your liking.
  5. Strain tea.
  6. Enjoy from a teapot or pour it directly into the teacups

Tea’s: 

  • black tea (decaf & regular)
  • green tea (decaf & regular)
  • white tea  (decaf & regular)
  • chamomile
  • Darjeeling  (decaf & regular)
  • Earl Grey  (decaf & regular)

“scents” to mix in:

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Mint (spearmint & peppermint)
  • Lemon peel, lemon verbena or lemon balm
  • Chai spices (ginger, white pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon) and any comb
  • Rose hips
  • Jasmine

Some combinations I particularly like:

  • Jasmine Green Tea
  • Lavender Earl Grey
  • Earl Grey with Lavender, Rose and Rosemary
  • London Fog (Earl Grey with Lavender and Vanilla)
  • Chamomile, rose & rosemary
  • Chamomile Lemon (verbena, blam or peel)
  • Ginger Black tea
  • Lemon rosemary chamomile
  • Cinnamon cardamom black tea
  • Chamomile mint
  • Chai black tea
  • so many more options… get creative

Enjoy!!

 

Ala Shanghai, Latham, NY

This restaurant is unassuming and unnoticeable when driving by. The first indicator that this restaurant is special is the large number of cars in the parking lot.  This authentic chinese food restaurant is a step above the rest. Unlike most, takeout is not the majority of their business.  They do have a takeout menu, but when entering, you see they have many tables packed with chinese families, groups of friends and the occasional “westerner.”

From the dim sum to the deserts (rice and red bean paste or egg soup with tapioca balls), everything was excellent and different from your usual chinese fare.

We did everything family style–the best way to do a meal.

What I tried:

A large pot of tea was given to us to start. We nursed it through the meal.

Starter

  • A5- Cucumber salad with sesame oil and scallions
    • a simple perfect starter. We kept it around and used it to cleanse the palate in between dishes.

Dim Sum

  • D5- Pork and Leek dumplings, steamed
    • You really cannot go wrong with pork and leeks.
  • D13- Wontons in Spicy flavor–Steamed wonton marinated with cucumber, scallion, sesame chili sauce and sesame seed.
    • These were very spicy, but very good. They were filled with something–some type of meat I think–and they were perfect.

Main Course

  • C17- Sizzling Lamb with Scallions–sautéed sliced lamb leg with scallion and Sha-cha sauce. Serve on a sizzling skillet.
    • The sizzling skillet made this a fun dish to order.
  • S9- Prawns with Honey Walnut– Light fried prawns marinated with House mayonnaise and surrounding by honey walnuts and broccoli.
    • Plan to hit the gym after. These tempura’d shrimp were covered in a sweet mayo. Fabulous, but very rich.
  • V17- Eggplant in Garlic Sauce– sautéed Chinese eggplant with minced pork in garlic sauce.
    • I loved the dish, but had mixed feelings. I love eggplant but the garlic sauce overshadowed the taste of eggplant. This is a good thing if you don’t like the taste of eggplant and love the eggplant texture, but a bad thing if you are the opposite. Because I both like the taste and texture of the eggplant, I still got the texture of it and the dish tasted good. I may order it again, or then again not because there are so many other options at this restaurant.

Dessert

  • E3- Eight Jewel Sticky Rice – Steamed sticky rice topped with dried fruit and stuffed with red bean paste in the middle.
    • FAVORITE. I love sticky rice. I loved this version. FABULOUS
  • E5- Tiny rice ball in Sweet Soup– Tiny rice ball with fermented glutinous rice and Osmanthus in sweet thick soup. For 2 servings
    • I liked it but not compared to the sticky rice. I could not even eat a quarter of it. Perhaps it was because of the feast we had earlier?  My partner of crime professed the dish perfect.

I would recommend this restaurant– a great place to take the family or a group of friends.  Get cosy with family style.

Ala Shanghai (
468 Troy Schenectady Rd
Latham, NY 12110

Website: http://alashanghai.net/

Seoul Korean Restaurant, Latham, NY

One of my good friends from college is living in South Korea right now. She is having an amazing time and posting all of these photos of different cultural events as well as mouth-watering photos of korean food.  My favorite thing about travel is probably the food. I love exploring other cultures by exploring their food as well as the traditions and rituals that go with them.  I am not unfamiliar with Korean food or Korean culture.  I have had a Korean suite-mate and we cooked a bit of Korean food as well as having friends who were obsessed with Korean culture.  Despite this, or rather because of this, I wanted to explore Korea a bit more.  So, although I cannot book a plane over to Korea to experience some Korean culture and food, I decided to attempt to explore it on my own, here in the United States.

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This restaurant does not exist according to Google Maps. Seoul Korean Restaurant is located in the Peter Harris Plaza, 952 Troy-Schenectady Rd (AKA Route 7) in Latham.  This place, in an old but decent strip mall looks like a hole-in-the-wall.  Upon entering, we sat down at a table flanked by rice paper wall dividers. Looking at their menu, everything looked good and I had no idea what to order. The wonderful host was very accomadating as it took forever to order. When I told her everything looked good, she asked me a series of questions- Veggies? yes. Meat? yes. Spicy? yes. Chicken, Pork, shrimp, beef, seafood? Pork or Beef. She recommended a Beef and Korean vegetable stir fry with a spicy sauce.  I was sold.  My friend was starving and ordered 2 meals–Dolsot Bibimbap (Bibimbap is a bowl of rice with an egg cracked on top surrounded by spoonfull of various things– carrots, mung beans, beef, mushrooms) as well as a Kimchi Pancake.

The utensils given were chopsticks and nothing else which made me very happy. We were each given a little plate to put our food in.

Korean meals normally have little bowls of food that come regardless of what you order.  We were given 5 little bowls:

  1. Pickled Daikon (a Japanese Water Turnip) in a red sauce
  2. Mature Mung Bean salad (Mature enough to have the peanut-y crunch and taste)
  3. Seaweed Salad
  4. Marinated Fish cake strips with onions, carrots
  5. Kimchi

They were all very good. The kimchi was my least favorite because everything else as absolutely superb.  The pancake came first, and at this point, we decided we were going to share everything anyways.  Korean style meal.

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The pancake and the little bowls of food around it.  The Kimchi pancake was fabulous–despite me not being a fan of kimchi in general. It was crispy and tender on the inside and over all amazing. I prefered it plain than with the soy sauce because it just made it salty.  You could taste the pancake better.  While they call it a pancake, it is more like a pizza with 8 large slices.  I would recommend ordering it for a group of 6-8 people.  That being said, we finished most of it.

The rest of our food came…

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I am holding up my beef and Korean veggie stir fry (above) while my friends is in front of her Dolsot Bibimbap.

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Korean Rice is a short grain rice that it cooked until it is sticky.  It clumps together easily.  The bibimbap was served with a red bean paste sauce–a little bit spicy and sweet– which is a Korean staple. My Beef stir fry was very good. It was sweet and not very spicy and was amazing with the rice.  Throughout the meal we continued to work on all the dishes…

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Eventually, after a magnificent feast… a lot of the food disappeared (and some was packed up to take home).

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The bill came with two little jars of a tiny dessert drink.  The ingredients were as follows: Water, Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Skim Milk Powder, Glucose, Flavor, Culture.  With ingredients roughly translated to: Water, Sugar, Sugar, Milk powder, sugar, flavor, bacteria etc… we knew we were getting a fair amount of nutrition in this tiny drink.  But a little bit of food, despite how unhealthy it may be, cannot do terribly much harm. It tasted roughly as one would expect it to taste… like watered down sweetened milk with some ambiguous fruity flavor to it. It was not good, but it was not bad either.

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The food was fresh, good tasting, fun with generous portions and not too expensive. Although I doubt this food would be considered gourmet for Korean standards, as I am not a connoisseur of Korean food, I would not be able to tell the difference.  Like champagne, if you cannot tell the difference between barefoot bubbly and Perrier-Jouet, there is really no need to drink the Perrier-Jouet.  I definitely recommend it and plan drag my friends and family out to it frequently.

Fried Eggs in Bell Pepper Rings

Simple, easy, healthy breakfast

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt & Pepper

Cut the bell pepper into rings about 1/2 inch thick depending on the diameter of the ring. It should be able to hold the egg. The ends of the peppers, cut into thin sheets and place aside. Using your fingers, get rid of the seeds inside so that there is only the outside of the ring remaining.  Heat EVOO on medium heat, and sauté the pepper rings for several minutes on each side. If there is room in the pan, saute the pepper sheets/scraps as well. Crack an egg into each of the rings.  Fry for a few minutes on one side and then fry on the other side as desired.

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Serve over toast and enjoy!

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Berlin: Restaurant Asteria: Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine

So, yesterday, I decided to join some friends and go to a greek restaurant with them.  I love greek food.  I love it even more after my trip to greece.  So many wonderful memories are from that trip.  The food and the people from my trip to greece were fabulous.  The question is, would this greek restaurant live up to it?

 

The restaurant is located right near Eberswalder Strasse, a U-bahn stop on the U2 line. We saw that the outside dining area was very full, and were worried that without reservations, the 8 of us would not be able to eat there.  The inside had plenty of room.  We sat down at nice big table and looked at the menu.

 

The atmosphere was wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

The menu looked a more bit expensive than I thought it would be. Entrees range from €9 to €15. Moussaka was €11.80 euros. I decided to go with a mixed grill platter (€12.80).  The grill platter consisted of gyros, souvlaki, tzatziki and a salad.  We also ordered tap water.  We were given glasses and a pitcher of water which we had refilled multiple times throughout the meal.

After we ordered, one of the waiters came around and gave the 8 of us, a tray with 8 complementary shots of ouzo.  Now, ouzo is the traditional spirit drunk in greece.  It is clear.  When mixed with water, it turns to a milky white.   It tastes like liquorice.    These shots, were this milky white color, so we knew that they were watered down.  We raised our glasses high, “yamas,” and then drank the liquorice-flavored milky-looking liquid.

Our salads arrived.  Normally, when an entree comes with salad in the description, it is not an entire course.  The salad was made of iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots and shredded cabbage.  It was so filling, I could not finish it.

 

After the salad course, our ouzo glasses were refilled.  “Yamas!”  They refilled our ouzo glasses about 30 seconds after our previous toast.

 

 

We talked and chatted.  After a while, our food came out.  The food was served with fresh, still warm bread.  There was a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and another Balsamic vinegar on every table.  I poured these onto a little plate and dipped the bread in it.

 

The platters were incredibly large. This is a bad photo pf what I ordered, but the plate was a foot and a half wide.  The gyros (front right) was made of pieces of meat that had been skewered, cooked and then sliced.  The souvlaki (back right) was huge.  The balls of rice in the back must have been a 1/2 a cup each.

 

 

The person across from me ordered the scampi salad.  IT was huge.  This plate was also fuge.   You can get a sense of the size from the person sitting behind it.  The bowl was very deep and a 1 1/2 or more feet across.  That giant chuck of feta cheese was about 6 inches long.

 




 

 

I ate as much as I could, and this was what I was left with…

 

 

I still had more than a full meal left over, so I had it wrapped up.  After that, they brought out another complementary course for dessert: fresh fruit!

 

 

 

By this time, we were all so full.  They insisted in filling our ouzo glasses.  As the night had progressed, out ouzo went from a milky white to a clear color.  Throughout the entire meal, they kept on trying to give us more ouzo. It was not shady or anything like that.  It was very nice and festive.  It felt like a party.

 

 

 

 

I definitely recommend this place.  You will pay around €15-€20/per person after tip.  You will be so full, have enough food for 1-2 more meals, and you will have ingested as much or as little ouzo as you have wanted.  In the course of the night, I think they refilled our ouzo glasses about 5 times, but we had to restrain ourselves and them in order to drink that few.  If you do not want any more ouzo, just leave your glass full of it.  When you want more again, just drink it, and it will be refilled within the minute.  On some nights, there are two men with guitars that play and sing greek music.  That is when it turns into a real party.  It was too hot when we went for them to have the musicians that night.

 

 

Restauraunt Asteria

Griechisch Mediterran

Schoenhauser Allee 143

10435 Berlin

 

+030 400 53 571

12:00-24:00

 

http://www.asteria_berlin.de

Berlin: KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens

KaDeWe is something I stumbled into.  On the first floor, there is very high end jewelry, handbags, and then the usual cosmetics, perfumes, etc. For an example of high-end jewelry, they had Tiffany’s, Chanel, etc.

It reminded me a bit of Bloomingdales in NYC. It did not just sell clothes, but many other things:

I walked through rows and rows of beautiful, incredibly expensive foods.

One of my favorite sections in a really nice department store is their socks and tights section.

Sock heaven!  If I could afford these socks, I would totally wear them.


I accidentally stumbled into the childrens section.  Below are some normal preppy clothes, but for little boys.  The photo does not show it well because it is really hard to see the scaling.

This is a little boys mannequin wearing the most precious clothes.  I do not think I have seen a sports coat that small.

I would recommend visiting it if you want to see a very high-end department store.  The best part, is the restaurant and the Gourmet Level, but that is a separate post.

Address:

Tauentzienstr. 21-24

10789 Berlin Schöneberg

Berlin: Markthalle IX: Street Food Thursday

Markthalle IX or Market House 9 is an indoor market located near the U1 U-bahn station Gorlitzer.  To get there, you walk through a little park that has a church in it.

After you get to the end of the park, there is a lovely colorful setting of chairs, bikes and people enjoying food from a cafe.

After one more block, you are there! The bikes of the people inside are lined up along the streets.

You enter a stone building with a great big arch.   Depending on when you go, it could be completely packed, or you could have plenty of room to breath.  There are red and white striped tents that the different vendors have. Strings of Christmas lights are hung around the tents and over them to create a festive and almost-outdoor-market feel.

There are plenty of places to sit down and eat inside.  Sometimes it gets too crowded and people enjoy their food outside.

There is even a little playground inside for children.  This photo was taken when it was really busy, so it is hard to see.

After you get a feel for the atmosphere, it is time to walk around and figure out what to eat.  I recommend just walking around (multiple time)  to see what food options are available.

There are several vendors that sell cheeses, others sell meats, and even more sell wine, beer, mixed drinks, tea and coffee.  One vendor in particular sells tapas.  You get a tray with pieces of cured meats, cheeses, fish, and olives.

Each vendor sells something different.  For meals, there are plenty of assembled meals to buy.  For vegans, this is paradise.  There are multiple food stations dedicated to vegan food.

Mediterranean Street Food Platters from a Vendor

Meat eaters, do not despair, there is plenty for you to eat.  There is a vendor that sells fish (menu below)  There is also a supposedly amazing bbq vendor.  They have baked potatoes, beef brisket, pork belly and other barbequed meats.





After that, there are plenty of asian food vendors.  This is one particular Taiwanese vendor that served Taiwanese burgers.

I decided to order one of the burgers.  They have an original with pork belly, and a “skinny” version with chicken.  When I was there, they had already sold out of the chicken.  So, being on the pork belly!

After assembling it for me, it was time to get what was mine.

The final product.  It was soooo good. It is hard to tell what it is from the photo because they put on a lot of cilantro, just the way I like it.  This was definitely fabulous.  I would recommend it to anyone.  The pork belly was fabulous, and incredibly tender.  I am sure the chicken version would be very good as well.  And as a bonus, if you order the chicken version, your belly will not look like a pig’s belly!

That was not the only kind of exotic food that was there.  There was also a korean place that sold kimchi.

There was some latin american food as well.

There was also an African food vendor.  In addition to that, there were two vendors that sold pies.  Now, by pies, I do not mean american pies, like apple pie.  I mean pies from the United Kingdom:  Steak and ale pies, apple and pork pies, and more.  If anyone is missing there British food, hop on down and get some good old hardy pies.

There was this place that served cups of food.  There layout always looks so nice.  The photos below are of the same vendor, but on different nights.

My friend and I both got a cup from this vendor.  The savory cups were 3 euros while the sweet cups were 3.5 euros.  Below is a photo of another friend holding the cups we got.  The savory cup has potatoes and herbs in the bottom, with speck in the middle and a pumpkin puree on top.  This was then garnished with a potato chip.

For dessert, there were plenty of other options.  From pastries and cookies, to mango lassies, to mint-lemon iced tea and cucumber ginger ale, to apple cobbler and cheese cake, to sorbet, ice cream and gelato, you can hardly go wrong.

Below is the stand that sold the Lemon-mint iced tea, and some apple crumble.

Overall, it was a fabulous market.  I definitely recommend it.  It would be good for friends to hand out.  It is also a perfect place for a date.

This market is every Thursday from 5-10pm or as the Europeans like to say, 17:00 to 22:00.  There are other markets located at this place.  This information is specific to the street food market.  Have fun!!

Hours: 17:00-22:00

Address:  Eisenbahnstraße 42, 10997 Berlin

Berlin: KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens: The Gourmet Floor

KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westens is a very high-end department store in Berlin.   I entered it and wandered around.  I saw that there was a food level titled: The Gourmet Floor.  I decided I had to see it.   This is what I found.

The 6th floor of KaDeWe is heaven for a foodie.  They have fabulous selections of just about everything.

They had an entire section devoted to eggs,  EGGS!!

You will not miss out on cheese here.

They have a section dedicated to Champagne.  I took a photo of this champagne, because when I was in Reims, Champagne, France, I visited the Taittinger champagne caves and took a tour of the place.

They even have a section dedicated to asian food.

Right in the center of this section is a little place to order some thai food.

They had plenty of  different types of dried fruit.  In fact, they had a whole counter dedicated to it.


Do not get me started on all the beautiful fruit!

 

Inside the fruit section, they had a counter dedicated to exotic fruit!!

Of course, they had an excellent selection of veggies, including root veggies.

Their wine selection was fabulous as well!

What impressed me more than their wine selection, was there jam selection.  Look at all those shelves filled with jam…

But, I did get upset when I got to the “American” section.  Their selection was horrible.  A lot of the section was filled with pop tarts, EZ-cheese, campbell’s soup, barbeque sauces and lots and lots of soda.

After this section, a man who worked there very rudely told me to not take photos. You see, I was wearing shorts, sandals, a t-shirt and had my backpack on my back.  It was about 87 degrees that day, and I was not planning on going into a high-end department store after work, but an outdoor market in the sun.  I know that he would not have dared to speak to me in that manner if I was older, or if I was with my parents or grandparents.  He must have thought I was a poor person wandering around who could not afford anything.

I would have taken photos of the fabulous tea selection they had, or the cured meats, etc.  They had a fabulous chocolate section too.  They had a counter of Teuscher Chocolates, one of my favorites.  They also had Mozartkugel.  I would have bought some Teuscher and Mozartkugel, but after one of the employees was so rude, I decided not to.

My other blog post about KaDeWe:

https://andersonbettyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/berlin-kadewe-or-kaufhaus-des-westens/

Address:

Tauentzienstr. 21-24

10789 Berlin Schöneberg

A photo gallery of all the photos in this post:

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