Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dirty Chai

A dirty chai is deeper than a regular chai latte due the the addition of espresso... yes, the espresso gives it something more than just depth.
I know it has at least one other name, though I can't recall right now.
Besides, dirty chai is what I call it, and it seems to work most of the time.
(And if that doesn't work, I'll order a chai latte with a couple shots of espresso.)

I think of it as a treat- great with a book on a cold day.
It's one of the things I tend to sample around town, and I certainly prefer some to others.

This dirty chai is similar to the masala chai recipe I have somewhere here, but I wanted to add a little more kick with a few of the spices since the espresso adds it's own type of strength to the drink. I wanted to make sure the spices were strong enough to stand up to it.

Those more robust spices include black pepper, clove, a bit more cardamom from the pods, and some nice fresh ginger.
Fresh ginger is wonderful, and much more intense than the powdered version, but it became apparent that milk and cream curdle in a very bad way if brought to a boil with fresh ginger.

It's an enzymatic reaction, and that enzyme in ginger needs to be killed if you prefer your beverages to be liquid.

There's less likely to be curdling if the ginger is brought to a high heat prior to adding it to milk.

So, because I (unfortunately) found I'm not a fan of cheese/spice/tea/coffee texture (more so if the spices cannot be easily removed), the ginger will not be added as the other spices are in this particular recipe.

It's written for part half and half (light cream) and part whole milk. If you'd like it a little less rich, skip the half and half and use all milk.

You may ask whether there is an easier way to do this- there are three things on the stove to create one drink! Well, I'm awful at doing things the easy way, so, no.
(Saying that reminds me of Tina Turner, "We never, ever do nothin' nice, an' easy."
Not that I'm exactly Tina Turner...)

Dirty Chai
serves 4-6

8 green cardamom pods- cracked, seeds removed and pods reserved
1, 1 1/2 inch long cinnamon stick (about 1/2 a regular-sized, bottled stick)
5 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1/4 t (1 g) fennel seeds
1 c (250 ml) half and half (light cream)
1 c (250 ml) whole milk
1/8 t (generous pinch or two) freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 t (generous pinch) kosher or sea salt (anything but iodized)
fresh ginger, a generous nutmeg-sized knob, thinly sliced
1 1/4 c (310 ml) water
5 t (enough for 5 cups) loose black tea
3 T (45 g) raw sugar
8 shots fresh, hot espresso

Grind together cardamom, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, clove and fennel in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Bring the half and half and milk to a simmer over medium heat in a heavy saucepan along with the ground spices, nutmeg, cardamom pods, and salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently about 3 minutes to infuse the spices into the milk, stirring occasionally.

While milk infuses, bring the water to a full rolling boil in a small saucepan along with the ginger. Boil about 3 minutes,  remove the pan from the heat, add the tea, and let steep for 5 minutes.

Pour the tea through a fine-mesh strainer into the milk and spice mixture, discarding the tea leaves.  Pour the milk and tea mixture back through a fine mesh strainer into the small saucepan that previously held the tea (rinsed, of course, if any tea leaves remain). 
Add the sugar and warm the tea and milk over low heat 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the sugar and incorporate everything together. Add the espresso, stir, and serve.

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