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Sat, Jun 7th - 4:31PM

Spices and Chai for an Addled Brain

I’m sick! Bronchitis, flu, stuffed up, tired, whatever.  Need to do many things, don’t feel like doing anything. So, I organized my Indian spices. My hobby, Indian cooking, gives me pleasure - messing with it, organizing it, cooking dishes, reading recipe books…it all makes me feel good. So, today I made my flu-addled brain a pot of homemade Chai and set about transferring little plastic bags of spices (I buy in bulk, putting each spice in a little plastic bag and securing with a twist tie) into sixteen small plastic square containers with yellow lids that I found at a Dollar Store the other day. On each lid I neatly printed the spice name. Then, I vacuumed out the little Rubbermaid container that contains my sundry Indian cooking stuff and stacked them neatly on one end. I keep a very small frying pan for toasting spices, the master of the little cookbook I created, two different sizes of very small Ziploc bags for when I make gifts of the Chai or another recipe and want to include some spice, some larger Ziplocs containing more of some common spices like turmeric, cumin seed and garam masala, and a few 3” cloth and decorative bags for gift giving. I also have some other stuff I keep elsewhere, a small electric Krups coffee grinder that is just for spices and a stainless steel grater for ginger.


I then organized my Chai container. I have everything for making the flavorful tea in another smaller Rubbermaid container – Assam (black) tea, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, cardamom powder. It takes 5 teaspoons each of tea, cinnamon, and brown sugar plus 5 half sticks of cinnamon and ½ teas. cardamom powder and 5 slices of fresh ginger to brew the tea. I Ziploc the brown sugar and tea in separate 5-teaspoon amounts, ready to dump and put the ½ teas cardamom into even smaller Ziplocs. Then with three cups of water, 2 cups of milk and my Hot Pot and it’s a quick fix. Thanks to my friend Sam for introducing me to his family’s special Chai (see Sept. 6th blog entry). Sam is from Pakistan, a place I’ve never been and likely never will be. Comfort and pleasure derived from food clearly transcends borders.


The comfort I’ve found today putting spices in small square containers while sipping warm spice-infused tea might be a metaphor for what many people need to do more often, scale back, do something simple that gives you pleasure and indulge in comforting tastes and smells.

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