Monday, January 24, 2011

this chai ova here.

This past summer I got really into making my own chai iced tea, blending spices with assam and other loose varieties.  That is, until I drank a whole pitcher in one day and kind of tweaked.

BUT!  Now that we're in the colder months and depend less on large quantities of ice cold beverages to comfort us, I've found a way to enjoy the warm spice of chai tea once again.  And while a toasty mug might get the job done, a bowl is more fitting for this one.

I'm talking of course about chai oatmeal.

This recipe 'occurred to me' one morning when like many a winter's morning, I had a hankering for oatmeal.  I typically like my oatmeal simple and on the sweeter side - spicing my oats with cinnamon and topping off with maple syrup usually seems like a good idea.  But one morning I thought, why not add some cardamom?  And maybe some nutmeg and coriander would be good too... and the rest just unfolded over the course of a few breakfasts.  I remember thinking, 'man, how come no one's ever done this?'  So I googled 'chai oatmeal' and found a bunch of recipes from other enthusiastic oatmeal tinkerers like myself that have in fact already 'done this'.  One thing that sets my recipe apart however is the inclusion of tea.  I think you could really experiment with tea types to add depth and meatiness to this recipe.

1/2 cup rice milk + 3T or so (you could also use soy milk, almond milk, whole milk, etc)
1/2 cup water
1/4tsp salt
[a pinch of crushed cardamom seeds
a pinch of crushed coriander seeds
a couple dashes of ginger powder or 4 - 8 thin slices fresh
a tiny pinch of nutmeg 
a dash or two of cinnamon
a drop or two of vanilla (if you'd like)
one or two turns on a pepper grinder]*
1tsp light brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup raisins
1 bag of black tea or 1 tsp loose tea in an infuser (feel free to experiment - early gray or perhaps even lapsang souchong might be interesting)  

*[all the spices can be adjusted to taste - I mean, 'pinch', 'dash', and 'tiny pinch' aren't real measurements]

Stir all but the last three ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir in oats and raisins; add tea bag and lower heat to a simmer.  Remove tea bag after steeping for 3 - 4 minutes and simmer oats for an additional 1 or 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and oats are at desired doneness.  Stir a couple of times, let sit for a minute, and transfer to a bowl. 

You know what happens next.  It's the what do you do if you're into oatmeal in the morning but you don't have the time to make it or if you do, you won't have time to eat it warm... or maybe you just desire a satisfying crunch cradled by cold milk and don't care to keep buying by the box or even by the bulk. 

You make your own granola.  

And the mysteries unravel... 

Here's the original recipe we followed on the first round, straight out the pages of the Candle Cafe Cookbook:

1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup safflower or coconut oil
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. Combine all but last two ingredients.  Spread out on the baking sheet, bake for 20 minutes, until golden, stirring every 5.  Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer to a bowl and stir in raisins and coconut.

Pretty easy.

And as one good idea often inspires another, we go full circle with an adaptation of this granola recipe giving us...

Chai Spiced Granola!

1 1/2 cup oats (blend steel and rolled and whatever other kind of oats you want in the ratio you want)
1 cup nuts (we did pecans that we broke up by hand, whole almonds and whole cashews)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup maple syrup
a little less than 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
[1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp or a couple dashes of crushed cardamom
a couple dashes crushed coriander
tiny pinch of nutmeg
couple turns on the pepper grinder
a couple dashes of ginger
a couple dashes of cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper]*
raisins (just add when ready to eat)

*again, spice to taste

Also, we measured the nuts, seeds, and quinoa really just by tossing them in and seeing what ratio we liked.  You could do the same, or you could go by these estimates - you could always add more syrup to your mix if it ends up looking too dry.


In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, seeds, and quinoa.  In another bowl, mix liquid ingredients with your salt and spices.  Taste as you go, decreasing or increasing quantities of spices as you'd like them.  Pour liquid spice blend over dry ingredients and mix till wet.  Spread out onto a parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden, stirring every 5 minutes.  Remove and let cool. Transfer to a bowl and stir in raisins.

Notes on the Chai Granola Recipe
Other dried fruit like apricots or golden raisins would be a welcome alternative/addition to raisins, especially with this recipe.  Also, we used vegetable oil and I think next time I would in fact try to use safflower or coconut oil - the flavor of the veggie oil does come through a little and I think a more neutral oil would definitely be better.  We just used what was on hand.  You could also still include the coconut or even incorporate it during the last five minutes of baking to get it nice and toasty.  Might even try finishing with flake salt while the mix is still warm.  Also, the spices were mellower than I thought they'd be - a heavier hand would be alright with this recipe... still came out pretty good though, gotta say.

As you can see, granola's pretty straight forward and open to interpretation.  It's kind of like the kitchen sink of cereals and most of the ingredients are non-perishable, so a stocked pantry is really your main ingredient.  Also, it will keep for a month or so in an air-tight container - why ever buy cereal again?

double blog post, all the way across your screen.

1 comment:

  1. oh my god! what does this mean?

    (chai muffins next?)