Every family has their own way of flavouring chai. Ever since I can remember we ground up spices to make the chai masala, we also added aromatics to the pot like grated ginger, dried or fresh mint leaves from the ba and dada’s garden and some lemon grass leaves.
Once brewed we would have a wonderfully fragrant tea, that tickles the tongue with spice and sweetness. I know I’m biased but I think it’s absolutely perfect.
Monica’s chai recipe serves 2 people
1 Tea bag/2 teaspoons loose tea
1/4 – 1/2 tsp chai masala (depending on how spicy you like it)
couple of pinches of chopped of lemon grass leaves
2 sprigs of fresh/dried mint
2 teaspoons sugar
grated ginger root (about 1cm-2cm worth)
dairy or non dairy milk to your taste (if using non dairy I prefer oat or coconut)
2 mugs water
Pour the water into a pot and add all the ingredients apart from milk and and bring to the boil on a medium heat. Let it steep for a minute whilst boiling. Add the milk and again bring to the boil on medium heat, lower the heat slightly and let it steep again for another one-two minutes. Strain and serve!
Its really that simple and nothing warms you up like chai on these cold winter days.
If you want to spice it up a bit further a shot of rum goes a long way 😉
Chapati’s are staple in my house and are eaten with the majority of our Indian meals. They are an Indian flat bread made without any yeast. In our household we have to feed 7 people so we make around 20 of them a day. My recipe will be for about 10 chapati’s however if there is excess dough you can always wrap it and store in the fridge for up to two days. Another option is to cook the chapatis, cool them and freeze them. I will delve into more details about freezing later on in this post. At home we use a finely ground wholemeal flour due to certain dietary requirements within the family. Personally, since changing from white chapati flour, I have to say, I do prefer wholemeal but it is entirely up to you which flour you use!
So here we go!
2 cups/240g chapati flour
Roughly 1 cup/240ml hot (not boiling) water
1 teaspoon veg oil
butter/vegan butter (optional)
In a large bowl, pour the oil into the flour and mix (if using white flour add another teaspoon of oil). Make a well and add a small amount of hot water and mix with your hand. Keep adding water and mixing/kneading until you have a moist dough. If it becomes too sticky just add a bit more flour. The dough needs to be easy enough to roll so not too firm but not too sticky. Knead for about 5 minutes until is is pliable and smooth. Cover and leave to rest for 15-30 minutes.
Once you have made the dough separate in to small, equal, walnut-sized balls. Place a skillet or heavy based non-stick frying pan on a medium heat.
Just before rolling the chapati, mould the ball of dough so it is smooth and round and gently flatten. Dip into some flour and roll on a cutting board/wooden surface. Roll out evenly into a round circle about 6-7inches in diameter.
Do not stack raw chapati’s on top of each other otherwise they will stick. I find rolling and cooking each chapati individually works best.
So cooking the chapati, there are two methods. Both begin by wiping the excess flour off and placing the chapati on the hot skillet/frying pan (if your pan or skillet is known for sticking oil it very lightly).
Gently allow the chapati to heat through, once its started forming little bubbles, flip onto the other side, (use a silicone spatula if you don’t want to burn your fingers). The second side will need a little less time to cook. More air pockets will form and very, very light brown spots will begin to appear on the bottom of the chapati.
Remove from heat. Ok now this is where we have options. The normal way took cook a chapati would be on top of the stove but there is another way in which you can do it.
If you are not comfortable cooking on top of the stove, you can use your grill. You will need to heat your grill to a high temperature first.If using the grill you don’t need to remove the chapati from the skillet/frying pan. Simply slide the pan into the grill, and watch the chapati rise. Slide out and flip using metal tongs. Toast each side a couple of times.
Cooking on top of the hob requires you to remove the chapati from the skillet and place on top of a gas stove hob on a low to medium heat. If you do not have a gas stove, place a metal mesh on top of your electric or halogen ring and cook on top of that. When cooking the chapati on the hob, I would recommend using metal tongs. Allow the chapati to puff up then flip onto the other side and repeat.
I’ve recorded a short video showing you the process of cooking the chapati on the flame. Please ignore the fact I’m using my hands, that has come from years of practice. I really don’t want you guys to scald yourselves from fast releasing steam from a hole or burn yourselves on the flame, so please, please, please use metal tongs
If you notice, I turn the gas up to help the chapati cook/puff up but turn the gas down when I want to flip it.
Remove from grill/hob and place flat into a lined container and butter (optional). I like to butter every other one so they are not buttered on both sides. We use a round container and line the bottom with a bit of paper towel to stop the chapati from going soggy. Once you have cooked all the chapati’s serve up with your favourite Indian dish and enjoy!
With regards to freezing your chapati’s, cook them but do not butter them. Allow them to cool thoroughly and then place flat into a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze (in batches if need be). When you want to use them, take them out and allow them to thaw then heat on the skillet/frying pan and butter if desired.
If you go to any Indian persons house they will have a spice tin just like this one. I thought since I will be posting quite a few Indian recipes along the way, it would be handy to familiarise those who are unsure about what spices are the basis to my recipes.
In this tin we have:
Coriander/cumin powder (a mix) (the one closest)
Garam masala (the one furthest away)
Red chilli powder (red powder)
Mustard seeds (can’t really see the black seeds but they are at about 1 o’clock in the spice tin)
Tumeric (yellow powder)
Dried whole chillies (middle)
Cumin seeds (in the bag)
Thymol seeds (out of view)
Fenugreek seeds (in the middle under the dried chili’s)
Out of the tin we also have a few more staple spices and herbs such as:
Fresh chili’s, garlic and ginger (which we often pre-grind together in bulk to use in all of our recipes. This is somewhat frowned upon but for a working family it saves time and makes things a little more convenient.)
Fresh curry leaves
Fresh bay leaves
It’s important to know that:
Mustard seeds are used in the majority of vegetarian dishes and never in meat, fish and poultry dishes.
When making meat, poultry or fish dishes you usually use cinnamon, cardamon and cloves (sometimes not all).
Ground coriander and cumin and tumeric goes in EVERYTHING!
Fresh coriander is chopped and added in to EVERY dish!
Only use minimum amounts of garam masala. If you use too much it makes the back of your throat prickly/burn. So if you are experimenting with Indian food and recipes stick to fresh chili’s for the main source of heat.
If you want to make your own fresh spice mix like I do you will need to grind up 2 parts chili, 1 part garlic and ginger (in terms of ratio). Once ground put it into a container and mix in a tiny bit of tumeric and add a little bit of oil to help preserve. Just keep it in the fridge and use when needed.
If you would like to purchase one of these tins to keep your spices in they are available in Indian stores or online. (Sorry if this post seems a bit rushed, it’s a quick one. however if you would like to ask any questions comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible!)