Back in the summer, at the very gathering where I debuted this banana cake, was the first time I had homemade Nepali spiced tea. The tea was made by the hostess who had spent many years in Nepal doing missionary work, she talked us through the brewing process and even in the relative warmth of late summer, the fragrances brought about by its preparation made the house feel especially cosy and inviting.
Known as chya/chiya/chai, the Nepali spiced tea that I was introduced to has a few distinct characteristics:
- It is made with a half-milk-half-water mixture
- You can use whichever warm spices you have on hand but cardamon is a must
- It is brewed using tea powder or leaves rather than bags
Of course, with a cup of steaming chiya in my hands, I can't help but think about the people of Nepal. The situation in the areas badly effected by the earthquake is still dire and factors such as poor sanitation and housing are expected to cause ongoing problems as time goes on. I have been donating to UNICEF mostly, and am considering making a regular monthly donation as way to offer ongoing help to their relief efforts.
I realise that not everyone feels that they have enough to give - one way that was able to informally fundraise was by asking a group of friends who I was meeting for dinner if they would mind eating at a slightly less expensive restaurant and donating $5-10 each to UNICEF. Together we raised $100 to donate, not bad for a spontaneous effort among a small group of people and hopefully it lead the way for the people involved to stay interested in the cause.
Below is a simple little recipe for warming and fragrant chiya. Here's hoping you will be warm this winter.
Chiya (spicy Nepali tea)
makes 2 servings
Any of the following, although cardamon is recommended:
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
4-5 cardamon pods
2cm knob of ginger
2-3 black peppercorns
2tsp black tea leaves
1. Measure milk and water in a 2c capacity measuring cup and pour it into a small pot. Put the measuring cup to one side.
2. Add spices to the milk/water and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add sugar and tea and boil for 1 minute.
4. Pour tea back into the measuring cup through a tea strainer and divide into two cups.