How to Build a Better CHAI in Bologna

I love to stop in a cafè or tea shop for a hot drink when the weather turns chilly in the autumn. One of my favorites is chai. Chai is an Indian drink made of black tea that is boiled with milk, sugar and a spice mix of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and peppercorns.

image from aapplemint.com

This recipe can vary in its combinations of these ingredients from family to family or from shop to shop in India. It has become popular in the U.S. and the variations on this theme are endless. Maybe chai ice cream, chai panna cotta, chai milk shake, chai butter cookies, chai spice pumpkin pie or chai pudding…

Many Indian restaurants in the West serve chai in it’s original form. which means it will be very very sweet, sometimes too sweet for me.  I have drastically reduced my in take of sugar over the last few years and I’ve tried to make chai at home with less sugar but it needs a kind of sweetness to be a good chai.

A great authentic recipe is from From Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking – Barron’s (1983). When Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking was published,  it introduced many Westerners to Indian cuisine and all its sweet spicy secrets.

Her recipe makes about 2 cups and goes as follows:

1-1/2 cups water
1 inch stick of cinnamon
8 cardomom pods
8 whole cloves
2/3 cup milk
6 tsp. sugar (or to taste)
3 teaspoons any unperfumed loose black tea

Put 1-1/2 cups water in saucepan. Add the cinnamon, cardomom, and cloves and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the milk and sugar and bring to a simmer again. Throw in the tea leaves, cover, and turn off the heat. After 2 minutes, strain the tea into two cups and serve immediately.

I like to drink coconut milk and it has a natural sweetness…  so I thought, it could be used for chai and it would give the drink a new twist with the coconut flavor. See the recipe.

My version uses:

Black tea – an Assam or Nilgiri

Coconut Milk

a dry spice mix of ginger cinnamon, cardamom and cloves

Now if you don’t want to make the spice mix…. where in Bologna to get it? Here are some favorite tea shops where you can get the loose black tea and/or the dry spice mix.

#MondodiEutèpia via Testoni 5/e Bologna (tea and spice mix)

#StregaTe via Porta Nova 7/a Bologna (tea and spices)

#IlGiardinodelleCamelie via San Vitale 7 Bologna (tea)

image from hilfsprojekt-kerala.com

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