I’m happy to report that after approximately 3 weeks of feeling less than stellar, I think the cold-that-won’t-end is saying its last goodbye. And to it I say, good riddance.
The silver lining of all of this is that I finally got around to the Downton Abbey binge I’ve been planning for the past three years. Eight plus couch hours a night will do that. I’m not all the way through yet, so please no spoilers (though, I do know some)!
Despite the length of the stay of the aforementioned cold, I didn’t resort to my traditional sick foods: baked custard, chicken soup- but rather ate all that you’ve been seeing here, because nothing says “I don’t feel well like steak frites.” Alternatively, I was in scrounge mode. You know it. The “do I seriously have to make myself food right now? Screw that- I’m eating frozen broccoli, leftover steak and cheese and crackers for dinner.” Yes, it happened one night. Just like that.
The one thing that I did have a hankering for was tea. Remember how I’m a little bit wanna-be-British inside? But am also a little bit Southeast Asian? Well, the two combine wonderfully in this perfect chai tea.
Tea. Soothes all ails, yah? Growing up, my family did actually have regularly daily tea time, though without the pomp and circumstance, and with a poolside view. While we were all mostly loyal to the black tea, milk and sugar please, once in a while we’d ask Mom for “Indian tea” and she obliged- a creamy, sweet tea laced with spices that our little minds could not yet fathom. If I close my eyes, I can still smell it on the stovetop, filling the kitchen with its fragrant odor.
Years later “Indian tea,” aka chai tea became all the rage and can now be found everywhere, but to me, Mom did it first (though clearly, not before the entire Indian subcontinent).
Dreaming of the chai in all its glory, I lazily popped a chai tea bag into a mug and nuked it…only to get the most lackluster tea! Gross.
Dammit, Mom, why is yours always the best?
Anyway, I asked for her “secret” recipe, and got this:
British blend Tetley tea bag
cinnamon if you like
Thanks Mom, but we’ve had this discussion before. This is not a recipe. This is a list of ingredients. However, after calling her on the phone and giving her a little bit of crap about it, I understood the method and came up with an actual recipe. I guess it’s not really all that secret, but the proportions worked for me, and they will work for you, too. I was surprised to see no cinnamon but there it is.
After confirming the recipe and the method with Rutabaga, who is Sri Lankan, I’m confident in its authenticity. He noted that you can add a cinnamon stick to swirl. Just the stick though, leave the powder alone.
But, this is also key: always serve with biscuits.
- 1 Tetley British Blend or PG tea bag
- 2 cloves
- 2 cardamon pods, crushed
- 1” piece fresh ginger, sliced
- 2 tsp sugar (or more)
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup milk (depending on color)
- In a small saucepan, add the water, tea and spices. Heat until boiling and the tea is really dark. Remove tea bag and add milk. Heat until milk is just heated through.
- Add the sugar, stir until dissolved. Strain into a cup and enjoy!
- It's important to not add the milk at the beginning. Just the end.
- Swirl with cinnamon stick, if desired
The attention to natural remedies as an alternative to conventional drugs is on the rise, and its an idea to which I heartily subscribe. Food is meant to heal, not to be the poison that we’ve made it out to be, and this provides some really good tips on ways to incorporate both health and flavor into your daily meals. Just so happens, if you’ve been following along, you’ve seen much of these before.
za’atar: Lebanese spiced squash
ras el hanout: Chicken tagine
Chinese five spice: Bai sach chrouk
herbes de provence: Provence style eggs
garam masala: Butter chicken
jerk seasoning: Jerk dummies with mango cilantro dip
adobo seasoning: Haitian mac ‘n cheese
chili powder: Aussie burger chili
In case you needed any ideas…
Written during the start of what I imagine will be a very strong obsession with Downton Abbey.