Welcome to the next installment of my Meet the Spice Blend series, where I'm sharing the inspiration for, back stories of, and uses for my ever-expanding collection of small batch, handcrafted spice blends. Next up, let's meet To Live and Chai in LA (formerly known as Chai Masala)!!
The Inspiration - The Flavors of Chai Masala
Chai masala, often simply referred to as "chai" outside of India, is a richly spiced tea that has its roots deeply embedded in the history and culture of the Indian subcontinent. The word "chai" itself means "tea" in Hindi, and "masala" translates to "spiced," reflecting the blend of spices and black tea that characterizes this drink. The tradition of brewing tea with spices has ancient origins, evolving over centuries with influences from medicinal Ayurvedic practices and the Indian spice trade. As it spread across India, chai became an intrinsic part of daily life and social customs. Street-side "chaiwallas" or tea vendors became landmarks in cities and villages alike, offering a space for community gatherings, conversations, and moments of respite. The ritual of chai preparation and consumption transcends regional, religious, and class boundaries, making it a unifying cultural element in India. Moreover, with globalization, chai has found its way to cafes and homes worldwide, adapted and reinvented in myriad ways, symbolizing the global appeal of India's culinary heritage and the shared human appreciation for warmth, flavor, and connection.
Flavor Profile - To Live and Chai in LA
To Live and Chai in LA is a fragrant but tea-free ode to the classic chai masala. On first encounter, the aroma is unmistakably warm, with the sweet and slightly citrusy notes of Ceylon cinnamon leading the way. This is swiftly followed by the robust and spicy scent of ginger, punctuated by the fragrant eucalyptus-like aroma of cardamom. Black pepper introduces a mild, lingering heat, a zest that plays in the background and awakens the senses. The richness of nutmeg adds depth, its sweet and nutty undertones harmonizing beautifully with the intense, aromatic cloves. Finally, the blend is graced by the luxurious touch of saffron, imparting a delicate, floral sweetness.
Versatility in the Kitchen - To Live and Chai in LA
To Live and Chai in LA is versatile and can be incorporated in a variety of culinary delights. Mix it with black tea and steamed milk for a homemade Chai Latte. Prefer coffee to tea? Add a pinch to your morning latte for a Dirty Chai Latte. But don't stop at morning beverages!
1. Chai-Infused Oatmeal: Steep To Live and Chai in LA in hot milk for a few minutes, strain, and then use this infused milk to prepare your morning oatmeal. Top with fresh fruits and nuts for a hearty breakfast.
2. Chai-Spiced Baking: Incorporate To Live and Chai in LA into cookie dough, muffins, or cake batter to add a warming and aromatic touch. Think chai-spiced banana bread or cookies.
3. Chai-Spiced Smoothies: Add a pinch of To Live and Chai in LA to your morning smoothie. It pairs especially well with ingredients like banana, almond butter, and vanilla protein powder.
4. Chai Masala Pancakes or Waffles: Infuse your pancake or waffle batter with To Live and Chai in LA for a weekend breakfast treat. Serve with maple syrup and fresh berries.
5. Ice Cream and Desserts: Use To Live and Chai in LA to infuse the milk or cream base for homemade ice cream. Alternatively, sprinkle it over vanilla ice cream, puddings, or panna cotta for a delightful finishing touch.
6. Warm Cocktails: Infuse To Live and Chai in LA in hot toddies, spiked cider, or any other warm drink for a cozy and spiced alcoholic beverage.
7. Chai-Spiced Roasted Nuts: Mix To Live and Chai in LA with some melted butter or olive oil and toss with almonds, cashews, or pecans before roasting them in the oven.
8. Chai-Spiced Hot Chocolate: Brew a pinch of To Live and Chai in LA with your hot chocolate for an upgraded and spiced cocoa experience.
10. Chai Butter: Combine softened butter with a touch of To Live and Chai in LA and honey. This chai-infused butter can be spread on toast, muffins, or used in cooking for a fragrant twist.
11. Yogurt and Parfaits: Mix a pinch of To Live and Chai in LA into your yogurt. Layer with granola and fruits to create a chai-spiced parfait.
Remember, like any spice blend, it's essential to balance the quantity according to personal taste and the specific application to ensure the flavors harmonize beautifully.
A Bite of Good Recipes that use To Live and Chai in LA
Looking for some more concrete guidance on how to use To Live and Chai in LA? Check out these A Bite of Good recipes!
Chocolate Chai Pie - Chocolate Silk Pie gets a glow up with a bit of To Live and Chai in LA.
Chai Latte Scones - Mix, portion, and freeze the dough for these Chai Latte Scones and then bake them straight from frozen for the freshest scones any time!
Vanilla Chai Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting - I am a firm believer that one can never have too many cupcake recipes in one's collection, and this is solidly one of my favorites.
Ready to get your own To Live and Chai in LA? Get it here.