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Healthy Living Recipes

Chai is the word for tea in many languages, so when we drink plain tea we are technically drinking chai. Of course, that means the phrase “chai tea” is redundant. What we Westerners refer to as chai is actually masala chai, meaning spiced tea. As with most recipes that are enjoyed in various regions throughout India, there are many versions of masala chai. This recipes uses black tea, milk, and cane sugar, but also works well with a variety of “milks,” sweeteners, and teas. For coffee lovers, a cup of half chai and half coffee might be the perfect combination!

Kripalu Chai

Makes about 4 cups.

2 tablespoons whole cardamom
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole star of anise
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sliced fresh ginger
4 black tea bags
2 cups milk (or substitute soy or almond milk)
2 cups water
1 to 3 tablespoons sweetener of choice

Combine all spices and tie them in a cheesecloth. Using a rolling pin or other heavy utensil, lightly pound the spices to crush them slightly. Place milk, water, and spices, still in the cheesecloth, in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Bring water back to a boil, turn off, and add black tea. Let steep for five minutes, then strain. Add sweetener of choice and stir to dissolve. Serve warm, or chill over ice for a cooling treat.

Read Mel Sotos’ Nutritional Commentary: Power Spices.

Indian and Ayurvedic cultures have used cardamom for years as a balancing digestive tonic, as it can stimulate the digestive tract and reduce gas. When paired with stomach-soothing ginger after eating, it serves as an effective remedy for indigestion, and a few seeds chewed for a brief time can also be helpful to combat bad breath. The cardamom seed contains a variety of volatile oils with known health benefits. One of these, limonene, has become quite popular in the supplement industry for its seeming ability to alleviate reflux.

One of the prettiest spices around, star anise—the fruit of a small evergreen tree native to China—has traditionally been used to aid digestion, freshen the breath, promote lactation, and ease respiratory tract congestion. (However, do not confuse star anise (Illicium verum) with Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum)—while they look similar, Japanese star anise is quite toxic, causing severe inflammation in the kidneys and urinary and digestive tracts.) An interesting bit of star anise trivia: This spice is the major source of shikimic acid, a naturally occurring chemical compound that is used in the pharmaceutical synthesis of the anti-flu drug Tamiflu. Prices of star anise rose drastically in 2009 after a shortage resulted from an increase in Tamiflu production in response to the swine flu outbreak. Now that recent evidence has shown Tamiflu to be ineffective against flu, star anise should be more available once again!

Find more delicious and nutritious recipes in Kripalu Recipes.