If you’re not drinking alcohol as part of your Paleo diet (and we DO know that we really SHOULDN’T be, don’t we, kids..?), then the question arises – what exactly do you drink with food “X”?
In the case of Indian / Pakistani cuisine, one answer to that question is “chai masala“, or Indian spiced tea. The spices added to a base of Assam or Ceylon black teas really compliment the strong flavours of a typically extravagantly spiced Indian or Pakistani meal.
Usually this type of tea is prepared with plenty of cow’s milk and lots of sugar. I find that almond milk works just as well if not better, and the sugar is quite surplus to requirements – I simply omit it.
To prepare a chai masala you will need…
- Ceylon or Assam tea
- About a thumb sized piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- About 10 cloves
- About 10 green cardamoms, lightly crushed
- 1 good sized cinnamon stick, or a similarly sized piece or pieces of cassia bark
Firstly, prepare your tea water. Measure out a tea-pot’s worth into a saucepan. Add the cardamom, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. Bring up to a low simmer, and then continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.
For the best results, I use a tea-pot with a filter insert. Measure out a suitable amount of the base Assam or Ceylon tea for the size of your tea pot into the filter insert.
Once the water has been simmerng for 10 minutes, and has become infused with all the flavours of the ginger and the dry spices, use it to steep the tea leaves as you usually would.
As far as steeping times go, I typically tend to give this particular tea a bit longer to let the tea take on all the flavours in the steeping water, but no more than 5 minutes. Then simply remove the filter, and serve with a splash of almond milk.
This is where using a filter insert tea-pot reaps dividends. If you have no other way to remove the leaves from the water once the tea is ready, it will become over astringent and taste quite bitter.
As I say above, feel free to add a sweetener (a Paleo friendly one, of course!) if you wish, but I like the taste just as it is. Not only does chai masala work slpendidly with Indian food, it also stands up very nicely as a stand-alone drink.