Masala chai is a traditional African recipes with spices like ginger, cardamom and black pepper (www.africanepicure.com)

Flickr: Jonathan Stonehouse

This East African speciality probably comes originally from the Swahili Coast, where the Somalis, Kenyans and Tanzanians all make their own version using different quantities and kinds of spices.

It is best enjoyed hot, steaming in fact, with so much milk that is is the color of soft caramel, and with about as much sugar. The more black pepper and ginger you use, the spicier it will be. For some, the spice and burn of masala chai is what it’s about. For others, its the soothing combination of hot milk and cinnamon.

This is our version, but by all means, send us yours if you think it’s better and we’ll give it a try.

Milky Sweet Masala Chai

For 4 servings, which you should make even if this is just for you.

1.5 liters of filtered water

7 black tea bags, more or less according to how strong you like your tea!

2 tablespoons of black peppercorns

2 finger-sized sticks of cinnamon

7 cloves

8 cardamoms

2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

2 cups of whole milk

Sugar or honey to taste

1. Simmer the water with the tea bags, all the spices and the ginger, covered, for 15 minutes.

2. Uncover and add the milk, stirring evenly while it heats up.

3. Let the milk come to a boil until it starts to simmer and rise up the edges of the pot. Remove the pot from the heat and let the simmering settle.

4. As soon as it does, return the pot to the heat until it comes to a boil and starts to climb the pot again. Remove it from the heat once more.

5. As soon as the bubbles subside, return the pot to the heat one more time. Just before it boils, remove it and serve.

Serving Suggestions:

  • With vegetable samosas for afternoon tea.
  • With banana bread for breakfast.
  • Go easy on your stomach and drink this instead of coffee when you need a pick-me-up.

Read more about the spices and botanicals in masala chai:

Ginger