2 tsp peppercorns, freshly cracked for maximum flavor
1-2 Cinnamon sticks
6 cups of water
Milk- amounts vary depending on brew method.
English brew method:
Mix the ingredients together.
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.
Make a pot of tea however you normally do with a teabag.
Serve with milk.
Milk and water should add up to 6 cups, after being reduced. Traditionally, one part water to 1/4 – 1/2 parts milk.
Simmer the spices in water until fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Add the loose leaf tea. Simmer for about 5 minutes until a dark rich color.
Add the milk and remaining water to have a total of 6 cups of liquid.
Heat until steaming, strain and serve.
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.
Almonds (traditional cooking method only)
Pistacios (traditional cooking method only)
Rose petals, (add with looseleaf tea, in the traditional cooking method)
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.
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.
Add a “base” tea. This can be loose leaf tea or in tea bags. No matter.
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.
Brew until the strength is to your liking.
Enjoy from a teapot or pour it directly into the teacups
black tea (decaf & regular)
green tea (decaf & regular)
white tea (decaf & regular)
Darjeeling (decaf & regular)
Earl Grey (decaf & regular)
“scents” to mix in:
Mint (spearmint & peppermint)
Lemon peel, lemon verbena or lemon balm
Chai spices (ginger, white pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon) and any comb
I spent the last week in Florida with my grandparents. I love eating new foods and exploring new cultures so I made sure to spend a day at Epcot’s world showcase. We ended up having dinner at Marrakesh, the Moroccan restaurant. I ordered the Couscous M’Rouzia. The description read, “Braised beef served with prunes, balsamic vinegar, honey, sesame seeds and eggs.” When the dish came, there was a bed of couscous, the M’Rouzia with a hardboiled egg on top. It was wonderful, absolutely superb.
So now, let’s try to cook something just as good. I modified recipes that I found online, tweaked them a fair amount and came up with this one. It was amazing.
2 lbs chicken, in 1 1/2” cubes
2 tablespoon Ras El Hanout (make a half recipe and toss it all in) (recipe shown below)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1 1/4 cup prunes
3/4 cup sultana raisins
2 medium onions, grated
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise stars
1/4 cup unsalted butter or Olive Oil
1 cup water
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almonds
Combine the Ras El Hanout, ground ginger, salt, pepper, turmeric and saffron to make a dry rub. Coat chicken in this dry rub. Set for several hours, or overnight.
Soak sultana raisins and prunes in water to let them plump up.
Add the onions, garlic, cinnamon sticks, star anise and butter to a heavy bottom pan. Then add the chicken. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, letting the chicken brown all over.
Add the water to the pot as needed. Let simmer until tender. (Chicken will already be tender, so do about 5 min. If using beef or lamb, will take up to two hours depending on the size of the pieces.)
Drain the prunes and sultanas. Add them along with the honey, cinnamon and almonds to the pot. Make sure the water covers the prunes and sultanas.
Continue to cook uncovered until sauce is thick and syrupy. Stir occasionally. Fish out the star anise and cinnamon sticks or leave it in, keep it authentic, but warn the guests.
Serve over couscous, steamed potatoes or a flat bread like naan. If you try to eat low carb, serve it over coarsely chopped steamed cauliflower (filling but not calorically dense).
Possible modifications to the recipe above:
Sauté some onions until crispy and caramelized, serve on top for texture.
You can change the ratios, quantity and type or the dried fruit. It calls for 2 cups of golden raisins and prunes. You can include apricots into the mixture as well if you like.
Instead of or addition to adding almonds in to cook, sauté them or brown them in the oven and sprinkle on top.
Make it vegetarian with sweet potatoes instead of meat.
Beef, lamb or goat instead of chicken. I much prefer lamb. Note my notes above in step 4.
Use ground meat. It provides a different texture and is really good.
Ras El Hanout (Spice Mix)
(makes a 1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1. Mix all spices together.
All who ate it loved it. A little salty, sweet and spicy.