Chai is an orgy of healthy spices that has become a sensation across certain postcodes of Cork and Dublin. Here’s why. There is ginger to warm your tonsils; cinnamon to ignite your toes; nutmeg and clove to heat your insides; and cardamom to excite your synapses.
Chai coffee is my winter battery. I just add a pinch to my French press, and let the spices perform acts that only a defibrillator could rival. A teaspoon of chai will also dazzle crumbles, cakes and bakes. We love it sprinkled on top of foamy hot chocolates with some crunchy cacao nibs and woolly socks by the fire. Or packed into dinky jars as little gifts for friends feeling under the weather during these crazy viral times.
However, packets of spices can be dastardly expensive and wasteful. Most recipes only call for small amounts, so what’s the point in buying big supermarket packets? I recommend ordering the exact quantity you need, from as little as 10g, at specialist refill stores. Check out paxwholefoodsecogoods.com for example where you can buy this recipe in its entirety, no excess, no waste, no plastic. Other nation-wide delivery options include thegoodneighbour.ie and thesourcebulkfoods.ie . (See here for a map of Ireland with refill / bulk stores nearest to you).
3 tablespoons green cardamom pods
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 whole star anise (optional)
Fresh crack of the black pepper mill
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
Coax the cardamom seeds out of their papery pods. You can compost the pods, and then transfer the seeds into a coffee grinder or Nutribullet.
Add the remaining ingredients, and grind into a fine powder. That’s it!
Store in a screw-topped jar and use within 5 months. A pinch is all you need on top of hot chocolate, or 2 teaspoons in cakes and bakes.
Originally appeared in the Sunday Independent December 2021