Kashmiri Chai



Everything tastes better in an owl mug :)

What could be more magical than tea that turns pink?

Actually, it’s pretty scientific, the baking soda makes the solution basic so…..ooh, enough, Science, you’re ruining the ambiance!

Ok. So magic tea. I had never heard of Kashmiri chai (also called noon chai or pink chai), but first experienced it in Pakistan several years ago at my brother-in-law’s walima. What is this lovely and strange cup I’m being handed? So pretty! So fragrant and salty sweet! I was immediately enchanted.

The next week I had another cup from a street vendor when we visited the mountain town of Murree. Of course I looked it up when we got home, and found that it is most often served at special occasions such as weddings (check) and in scenic mountain locations (check), so I feel like I unknowingly got a pretty comprehensive Kashmiri chai experience.

But of course you can enjoy this within the comfort of your own non-mountain home to make just a regular day a little special. You can find Kashmiri chai at your local Indian store (which I did), or online, but from my understanding it’s basically the same as green tea so you can use that as well.

Kashmiri Chai

Pretty much from Instructables

  • 2 cups cold water + 1 cup cold water later
  • 1 heaping tbsp Kashmiri chai or green tea
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • good pinch black salt (or regular salt if you don’t have that)
  • 2 cups cold milk

Put 2 cups water, tea, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

Add a cup of cold water (to shock the tea leaves? Going to do more research about this). Turn heat to high and stir constantly while you bring it back to a boil.

When it’s boiling, add the milk and stir, then reduce heat back to medium to heat the whole pot through. Be relieved that it’s the color it is supposed to be. Strain and serve. Garnish with almonds or pistachios (which I would have loved to but was fresh out of nuts).

This tea really was a little magical as it brought back memories for my mother-in-law (this is her last month here, sadface) that my husband hadn’t heard, and she recounted how when she was young her mother would make a big pot every afternoon which they enjoyed with fresh bread and bakarkhani.

Rosemary Iced Tea


As this posts, I am in sunny Pakistan – visiting family, wearing salwar kameez, playing with cute babies, trying to keep up with the conversation using my 101 Urdu, piercing my nose (maybe?), drinking copious amounts of tea, vacationing in the beautiful mountains near Osama bin Laden’s house, eating biryanis and dancing to Bollywood songs.

PS I am not trying to sound like some annoying swanky jet setter – the last time we made this trip was over three years ago.

Rosemary Iced Tea

Time for another Secret Recipe Club! I was so happy to be matched this month with Devon from deli-cute-tessen.com, because I am always on the lookout for new vegan recipes to try. Deli-cute-tessen has tons and they look just delicious.

Besides cooking, Devon also loves crafting. She is from Montreal, and works for a non-profit called Apathy is Boring (isn’t it?), which is an organization that encourages youth to be more active in their communities and in their governments, which I think is just awesome.

For reasons of not having a lot of time to cook (as running around like a crazy person preparing to be gone half the month), as well as not wanting to cook a big pot of something that we wouldn’t be able to finish before we left, I chose one of the simpler recipes. However, the rosemary iced tea was just the perfect thing to calm my frazzled nerves and to sip sweetly whilst packing. I love herbs that are normally used in savory dishes used in a sweet way, it makes for a perfect balance.

Rosemary Iced Tea

4 sprigs fresh rosemary
handful of fresh mint
2 litres water
2 green tea bags
4 Tbsp agave nectar
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Boil 2 cups of water with tea bags, remove from heat and add 2 sprigs rosemary and the mint, roughly chopped, plus agave and lemon juice. Cool, strain into a picture and top with the rest of the cool water. Taste and adjust agave/lemon juice if necessary.

Serve in glasses with ice and a rosemary sprig garnish.

This was lovely, thanks so much for the recipe, Devon! I have my eye set on some more involved ones for when we come back, particularly this Vegan Grapefruit and Olive Oil Cake – yes please!

Mulled Wine


Mulled wine is lovely, warming, and festive. I first made it for a Christmas party my husband and I were having the year we moved in together. None of our friends were familiar so I described it as warm sangria. Feel free to spike it with rum or brandy, and if it’s for a party, I recommend doubling the recipe and floating a clove-studded orange for effect. I didn’t do either this time; I didn’t have any rum, and I made this for a regular old Friday night in December.

Mulled Wine

1 bottle cheap red wine
generous splash of juice (such as apple, apple cider, or orange. I used apricot nectar since I still had some in the fridge)
1 cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom
1 star anise pod
several each of: cardamom pods, allspice berries, cloves, black peppercorns
honey to taste
peel of one orange, tangerine, or clementine

Combine everything in a sauce pan, stirring to dissolve honey, and heat on low (don’t allow to boil!) for an hour and a half to two hours.

Note: if you don’t have all these spices, don’t despair! Use what you have, even a pinch of powdered spices.

Cardamom Coffee


Cardamom – the Queen of Spices – is my most favorite spice. It is warm, delicate, and in about 10 seconds can take your average cup of coffee into something lovely and romantic, straight out of Arabian Nights. Cardamom coffee appears in Arabian Nights…as an aphrodisiac.

You could just crack a few pods and put them on top of your coffee in the coffee maker. I love to use a French press, with espresso, and I love to drink it from a tea cup.

Cardamom Coffee

1 1/2 tbsp espresso (I like Bustelo)
2 cardamom pods, cracked
1 teacup water
milk or cream, optional (I take it)
sugar optional (I don’t)

Put espresso and cardamom pods in a French press. Heat water to a boil and pour over espresso. Let steep for a minute or two, press, pour, and fix as you like.

Rosewater and Cardamom Lassi


On the way to work a couple weeks ago I was listening to NPR coverage of the Syrian revolution. Although the regime has been quick to strike down resistance, I was touched by the creative and peaceful ways people are protesting, particularly those protesting by throwing roses in a fountain.

I guess I still had roses on the brain later when making lassis with Zoeya. We dressed this one up a bit with rosewater and cardamom for a pretty and delicate drink.

Rosewater and Cardamom Lassi

4 cardamom pods
1 1/2 c yogurt
1/2 c cold water
4 tbsp sugar (I used demerara, but plain would be fine)
1 tbsp rose water
1 c ice cubes

Crack cardamom pods, keeping seeds and discarding the outer shell. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend. Pour into glasses and enjoy.

To the revolution!

Red Raspberry Leaf Lemonade

This recipe is going to start off very sad.

Two weeks ago we found out I am miscarrying. Everything started off normally but then the baby just never began to develop. It feels like such a cruel joke because for two months we had all the excitement and the planning, not to mention all the symptoms (positive pregnancy test, exhaustion, morning sickness) but none of the baby. This has been one of the most heartbreaking events of my life. I feel so stupid to have joyfully and confidently announced my pregnancy so early – and why not, my first one was so breezy and easy – and now having to confess when people ask me how I’m doing that I’m not doing well at all. It’s awkward and sad.

I’ve been through all the stages of grief: hemorrhaging, IKEA shopping, mix taping, cooking away my pain (as you can see by the flurry of posts lately) and finally….acceptance.

Though difficult, this is teaching me a lot. Some things are put in perspective. I am blessed to have such supportive family and friends, my sweet husband who held me while I cried and cried, and most of all my beautiful daughter who I realize is a miracle. She came out so perfect when everything so easily could have gone wrong. I’m also learning how much is out of our hands. Nature is neither kind nor cruel, it just is. And not everything happens for a reason. Some things happen for no reason at all.

I am the kind of person that feels so much better when I can take action rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself (although I’ve done quite a bit of that too). Even though there’s not much I can do at this point, I can try to be healthy for when we decide to try again. I’ve been doing lots of reading, and found that red raspberry leaf is supposed to be very good for the womb, so I’m planning on drinking a good bit in the meantime. I ordered some online from Bulk Herb Store, and I’ve been drinking it hot with a little honey. Today though, since life gave me such a lemon, I decided to make lemonade.

Red Raspberry Leaf Lemonade

2 cups water (plus more to fill up pitcher)
2 tbsp red raspberry leaves
1/4 cup honey
2 lemons

In a small pot bring water and raspberry leaves to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in honey, and let sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of 1 1/2 lemons. Strain into a pitcher and fill the rest of it with cold water and the remaining half lemon (sliced). Serve over ice.

Note: through my Googling, I’ve read that red raspberry leaf is good for the reproductive system but that it causes contractions so you may not want to drink it right before you are trying to conceive or during the first trimester. Some studies say it’s safe, but personally, and especially after this experience, I would err on the side of caution. Check with your doctor or midwife.

Oh and remember this? I love Tori Amos, she suffered several miscarriages and this is about that. It’s really good if you listen to it like 10 or 20 times in a row, just my recommendation.

Masala Chai

It seems to bother some people when Americans say “chai tea.” Chai means tea! It’s redundant! Well whatever you call it, it’s delicious. Here’s how you can make your very own.

Ideally you can steep the ground spices in the tea as it’s boiling, but my husband prefers his tea plain (boring!) so I just let mine steep a few minutes in my steaming cup.

Masala Chai

Use about 1/2 tsp of the spice mixture per cup of tea – save the rest for a rainy day!

10 green cardamoms
3 cloves
3 black peppercorns
1” stick cinnamon
generous pinch fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 teabags black tea
4 cups water
1 cup milk

Toast the cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon and fennel in a dry skillet until they smell divine. Grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle (you will need to break the cinnamon stick up; if it’s too strong to snap, hacking at it with a knife works fine). Remove to a little bowl and stir in the ground ginger.

Bring water, teabags, and 1-2 tsp of the spice mixture to a boil. Add milk and steep. Serve hot with sugar or honey.

There are no rules, you can play around with the spices as you like, or just boil the tea with whole spices and strain them out. Enjoy!

Black and Cream, a St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail

Everyone knows the Black and Tan, but the Black and Cream was invented by myself and my dear friend (then roommate) Denise, one sunny afternoon many years ago. We had one Guinness and one cream soda in the fridge and decided to combine the two. The result is this delightful drink, that has the ice-cream taste of a car bomb without the curdle. Also something you can sip like a lady instead of chugging like a frat boy.

Black and Cream

Equal parts Guinness and cream soda

Hot Mami – a Mother’s Day Cocktail

A couple of years ago I made a mess of a cocktail with Rooh Afza, a rose-flavored syrup used to make yummy (non-alcoholic) summer drinks. It was a few of days after the end of Ramadan, during which we had been abstaining from alcohol, but drinking lots of Rooh Afza. We had a few friends over, and I mixed up some concoction with the syrup and vodka – you know, just to be funny in an inappropriate way – but I was rightfully smote.

Luckily, I got the chance to redeem myself this year at a BBQ we were having on Mother’s Day. We had made up a pitcher of Rooh Afza for the nondrinkers, so I decided to try again. This drink features Absolut Mandarin, with Rooh Afza already made up (mixed with sugar, water, and lemon juice), and is topped off with Sprite. The ratio is about 1 to 2 to 2. The result was sparkly and sweet, and I made up a cute name for it as I was carrying one over to my mother.

Shan also liked it, and as unofficial bartender began mixing them to distribute to the rest of our guests. It was delish, but to tell the truth maybe a little too sweet. Instead of Sprite I’d like to try it with orange seltzer. Happy Mother’s Day!