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A landmass about 1/3 the size of the U.S., India is home to 1.3 billion people, nearly 800 languages and unquantifiable cultural diversity. But there's one thing that brings nearly all people on the subcontinent together: chai.
Chai is simply the word for tea, but India's style of tea drinking is so unique the the rest of the world has reserved the word "chai" for the country's very specific tea style. The British brought tea drinking with them during colonial rule, and Indians made it their own, taking it to a whole new level in both method of preparation and frequency of drinking.
Typically, chai is a mixture of black tea, milk and plenty of sugar. But it's often prepared with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and various other spices – in the case of this recipe, cloves.
Because this is America, and we love our coffee, we can't help but love this recipe for "dirty" chocolate chai – more or less a chai latte with espresso. The mixture of black tea, spices, espresso and drinking chocolate creates a rich, soothing drink that also packs a serious caffeine wallop.
And if you're concerned about drinking a piping hot beverage during summer (made even hotter via ginger and spices) just know that hot drinks will actually do a better job of lowering your body temperature than cold drinks. So do yourself a favor and cool down with this dirty chocolate chai.
*Photo and recipe courtesy of The Food Channel
- 12 cardamom pods, crushed
- 1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half, seeds scraped and pod reserved
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks, crushed
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (a microplane grater is recommended)
- 4 plain black tea bags
- 4 cups organic whole milk
- 1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup drinking chocolate
- 1/2 cup fresh espresso
- Place cardamom, vanilla bean (the scraped seeds and the pod), cloves, cinnamon, ginger and tea bags in a triple-layered cheesecloth or nutmilk bag. If using cheesecloth, tie off with butcher's twine to form a spice pouch.
- Add milk, sugar and the bag of spices to a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and, stirring occasionally, bring liquid to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While milk is simmering, whisk to combine boiling water, chocolate and espresso in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Remove spice bag from saucepan, straining out any liquid from bag into saucepan before discarding.
- Transfer liquid from saucepan and small mixing bowl to blender and pulse to combine for 20 seconds, until frothy.
- Pour into mugs and bask in the glory of your double-caffeinated chocolate beverage.