The Etsy Blog

Eatsy: Doing Winter the Spicy Way handmade and vintage goods

Kvetching about the weather and telling readers how to cope through food or drink is old hat. So, I’ll just say this: spices often lend foods a warming je ne sais quoi in the thick of winter. If handled right — read: judiciously — spices make everything taste better, or at least smell better. (If you ever find yourself in a stinky, unwelcoming space, do as my friend Michelle recently did: fill up a saucepan with a bit of water and throw in a cinnamon stick, some cloves, and an orange peel if you can. Simmer, for instant transformation.)

Recently, in the Eatsy kitchen, there’s been a lot of toasting and grinding of spices. We’ve added cumin to Mexican black beans, achiote and allspice to braised pork, cloves to an Indian vegetable medley, fennel to a green coconut curry, caraway and cinnamon went into a chickpea soup, and coriander to a vinaigrette. What I’ve learned is that toasting spices for sauces, salsas and the like heightens the spices’ flavors. For quick infusions, like mulled wine and chai tea, spices can be left whole, though crushing them is useful.


Photo by irenethereforeiam

Irene Powell photographed the spices from her “Oma’s” recipe for windmill cookies.

To toast your spices, set a heavy pan (cast iron or something similar) over low heat and add whole spices. Do not overcrowd the pan or leave it too empty. You want enough room to shake the spices from time to time so they can slosh about; the ideal is a pan that is two-thirds full. Keep an eye on your spices as they toast and shake them often so they don’t burn. Different spices have different toasting times so toast each spice separately. They are ready when they release their aroma (oils) and look slightly toasty.

To grind, a mortar and pestle works well but a coffee or spice grinder makes things super easy. If you need to clean your coffee grinder, pulse some rice in it and then wipe it clean. Spices keep well, but always toast and grind them just before using. Their oils and intensity will penetrate in a way that a pre-ground spice simply can’t. Also, be sure to store spices away from heat and light.


Photo by GorgeousKarma

Chai in a clay cup (called kulhad) with curry and kachori, a traditional Indian snack.

To use spices for infusions, cracking them releases their oils, but toasting isn’t necessary. Here’s a simple recipe for making Masala chai, an Indian drink that blends black tea with sweet, heady spices. It requires no toasting or grinding. Traditionally, it has less milk than what some readers may be accustomed to. Feel free to add more milk or extra sweetener.

Masala Chai
Makes about 4 cups

4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3 cups water
1 teaspoon ginger root, chopped (no need to peel)
1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons black tea

In a mortar and pestle, crush the cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon. Place crushed spices in a small saucepan, add the water, ginger and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.

Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the tea. Let the tea steep, covered, for 3 minutes.

To serve, strain chai into a warmed teapot or cups.

  • bbbennyandthejet

    bbbennyandthejet says:

    whoa yum.. (star anise is my favourite spice.. and that's sayin' something..)

    4 years ago

  • CarryTheWord

    CarryTheWord says:

    What a fun idea!

    4 years ago

  • WatchWithDaDa

    WatchWithDaDa says:

    Sounds delicious. I love star anise too. Tasty AND beautiful.

    4 years ago

  • CarlyAnnSwift

    CarlyAnnSwift says:

    Chai lollies! mine!!! I'm craving something spicy now! Luckily, I bought some spice kits from cookingoutsidethebox last month and they are FAB! I'm going to the kitchen now.

    4 years ago

  • hattieshouse

    hattieshouse says:

    My morning always starts with a cup of chai...thanks for the recipe!!!!

    4 years ago

  • SugarCubeVintage

    SugarCubeVintage says:

    yummy...i need some now! the chai lollipops are gorgeous!

    4 years ago

  • ChrissiesRibbons

    ChrissiesRibbons says:

    Yum- will be trying this. Thank you!!

    4 years ago

  • ericawalker

    ericawalker says:

    Mmm, chai. Thanks for the recipe.

    4 years ago

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts says:

    Thank you for this. Could use it right now!

    4 years ago

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage says:

    need to learn more about spices... thanks for the recipe.

    4 years ago

  • flytrapprints

    flytrapprints says:

    mmm I love chai tea from starbucks but never really knew what spices were used to make it, great recipe.

    4 years ago

  • CraftsByBabz

    CraftsByBabz says:

    Sounds yummy!! Thank you!!

    4 years ago

  • Nikifashion

    Nikifashion says:

    great pictures!

    4 years ago

  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts says:

    Oh yum, just yum.

    4 years ago

  • DecadesOfVintage

    DecadesOfVintage says:

    Thank you so much. Great info

    4 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery says:

    I love chai lattes they're my favourite! Spices can really improve the flavour of just about anything!

    4 years ago

  • emwi

    emwi says:

    Ooo this sounds great. I've really wanted a good homemade chai recipe. I have a good friend who has a family Indian chai recipe that is absolutely delicious. I'll have to see how this ranks against that.

    4 years ago

  • Lorilan

    Lorilan says:

    ummm...yummy. thanks for this! but who's gonna make it for me! ? :) I need someone to do the grinding and the blending..I'd like to do the tasting! ha.

    4 years ago

  • frommylifetoyours

    frommylifetoyours says:

    Thanks for sharing I love this kind of stuff

    4 years ago

  • CraigsMarket

    CraigsMarket says:

    looks like a delicious chai recipe - thank you!

    4 years ago

  • soule

    soule says:

    yummy! I love Chai!

    4 years ago

  • pottersong

    pottersong says:

    Intresting! Thank you:)

    4 years ago

  • karoart

    karoart says:

    mouth watering article:)

    4 years ago

  • theroyal

    theroyal says:


    4 years ago

  • christinegoldschmidt

    christinegoldschmidt says:

    Gorgeous, I love the DIY teabags. Just superb! :)

    4 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage says:

    Love Chai! Happy to try the recipe!

    4 years ago

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie says:

    Sound deeelish Kitty. Thanks.

    4 years ago

  • Sachi215

    Sachi215 says:

    I L.O.V.E Chai Tea!!! Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe <3

    4 years ago

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections says:

    We make chai all the time, but we go heavy on the spices and ginger as we like ours strong and spicy- to get that effect, we also add fennel and anise seeds, with extra cinnamon and cardamom (a small hand full). You can also get more flavor out of the ginger by grating them. We do encourage everyone to make chai- once you have the proportions figures out for what spice notes you like you'll never buy watered down chai again. And with the internet, it's so easy to find/buy fresh whole spices.

    4 years ago

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie says:

    Sounds delicious! Yum! =)

    4 years ago

  • greatestfriend

    greatestfriend says:

    woah! i love your posts, kitty! thank you for sharing! I'm off to the kitchen...

    4 years ago

  • collectiblesatoz

    collectiblesatoz says:

    Great article! Thanks for sharing.

    4 years ago

  • Floreal

    Floreal says:

    Masala Chai.. I make it( the true indian way) every evening upon returing from work... it is so refreshing! it tastes amazing with some fritters.... :)

    4 years ago

  • studiopainters

    studiopainters says:

    colorful spicy.

    4 years ago

  • 22ndandChatty

    22ndandChatty says:

    Yummy! I've got to try this recipe...

    4 years ago

  • JewelsbyJasmin
  • JewelsbyJasmin

    JewelsbyJasmin says:

    And MisticalAcScents Chai is just sooooo yummy!

    4 years ago

  • dearange

    dearange says:

    Oh my...... those spices look amazing! Chai is sooooo super yummy too :)

    4 years ago

  • AmberGypsySky

    AmberGypsySky says:

    mmmmm spices. I just used a whole bunch with dinner tonight. Cumin is a godsend lately

    4 years ago

  • beadstylin

    beadstylin says:

    I am SO making this tea! Thank you for the tips on roasting...I can smell the spices now! :-)

    4 years ago

  • NaturalPetProducts

    NaturalPetProducts says:

    Loooooooooovvvvvveee chai, TY for the info! :-)

    4 years ago

  • cindylouwho2

    cindylouwho2 says:

    mmmm, looks delicious!

    4 years ago

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat says:

    Personally, I prefer my spices in mulled wine or cider at this time of year... but I certainly agree that they smell (& taste) delicious!

    4 years ago

  • coolstuffartgallery

    coolstuffartgallery says:

    Love this!

    4 years ago

  • weezieduzzit

    weezieduzzit says:

    KettleConfections says: We make chai all the time, but we go heavy on the spices and ginger as we like ours strong and spicy- to get that effect, we also add fennel and anise seeds, with extra cinnamon and cardamom (a small hand full). *** I also beef up the spices (it seems like chai is always steeping on the stove here, too) but I've never added fennel- great suggestion! (anise is a MUST!) I'll let some of my fennel in the garden go to seed so I can try it out. :)

    4 years ago

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage says:

    There's nothing better than a hot cup of tea on a cold winter's night... Thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • aerome34

    aerome34 says:

    This makes me want to stay home and play in the kitchen for hours!

    4 years ago

  • themefragrance

    themefragrance says:

    perfect recipe! yum!

    4 years ago

  • mjca003

    mjca003 says:

    this looks amazing! i can't wait to try it :)

    4 years ago

  • lulusnest

    lulusnest says:

    mmmm, me hungry now. thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • priya123

    priya123 says:

    I can smell the aroma ...Please pass me the cup & kachoris..yummy!! I will make some tomorrow:) thanks for sharing the recipe!

    4 years ago

  • SwitchDesignsNYC

    SwitchDesignsNYC says:

    I cant wait to try this!! Love chai :)

    4 years ago

  • amyfine

    amyfine says:


    4 years ago

  • TheVinylChalkboard

    TheVinylChalkboard says:

    Thank-you for this! Chai is one of my favorite things! I can hardly wait to try this recipe!

    4 years ago

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry says:

    Mmmmmmmm... all of the spices! So pretty! Thanks for the recipe! I love chai but have never made it from scratch before.

    4 years ago

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop says:

    It sounds amazing, I must try this.

    4 years ago

  • abelabodycare

    abelabodycare says:

    Going to be trying this. Thanks!

    4 years ago

  • astarteearthart

    astarteearthart says:

    I never thought to buy my tea on Etsy...dah!

    4 years ago

  • timeforteame

    timeforteame says:

    yum. if you don't have all the spices, a simpler recipe i learned while in india is just to use the black peppercorns, cardamom, sugar and tea...

    4 years ago

  • DewdropTreasures

    DewdropTreasures says:

    It reminds me of a little Indian shop near the campus. I'm going to get the spices there tomorrow. Love your photography as well. Thank you for sharing.

    4 years ago

  • TipsyTimeMachine

    TipsyTimeMachine says:

    I like chai spices so much, I often skip the tea and heat milk with chai spices in the microwave...and add a bit of sugar, sooo much better than hot cocoa before bedtime. Fennel or anise sounds like a yummy addition.

    4 years ago

  • Pipkyn

    Pipkyn says:

    Love, love, love spices! my boyfriend and I are always playing around with different flavours, although we've never tried chai so thats def a project for the weekend - thanks!

    4 years ago

  • elmstreetmarket

    elmstreetmarket says:

    I love chai and this post is making me drool, but I gave up when I got to the ingredients! Yup, that lazy.

    4 years ago

  • EatenApple

    EatenApple says:

    Yeah I love tea! And winter's still here... :D

    4 years ago

  • poorjimsvintage

    poorjimsvintage says:

    So yummy hearts for food!

    4 years ago

  • AliceCouture

    AliceCouture says:

    Winter and cold weather is still here,and a yummy tea like this...well,SUPER-YUMMY IDEA!!!

    4 years ago

  • babybayrs

    babybayrs says:

    life is total bland without spices. I can't live without spices. Will check out yummy spices above.

    4 years ago

  • RubyRedDragon

    RubyRedDragon says:

    Thank God for chai!!!!! :)

    4 years ago

  • blessedvintage

    blessedvintage says:

    looks good

    4 years ago

  • veeramani

    veeramani says:

    Superb :-)

    4 years ago

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 says:

    Looks great, I could go for something hot and spicey right about now, getting real tired of these below zero digits up here in Minnesota!

    4 years ago

  • symmetricalpottery

    symmetricalpottery says:


    4 years ago

  • Mattie714

    Mattie714 says:

    my husband has spent time in the Middle East and fell inlovewith real Chai Tea, I cannot wait to make this for him and see what he thinks! Thank you for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • pamwares

    pamwares says:

    this is great - I love spices. I would imagine the toasting makes your home smell amazing as well. thank you!

    4 years ago

  • bmused

    bmused says:

    mmmmm...thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • steinschmuckdesign
  • vintagerenewal

    vintagerenewal says:

    Looks awesome! Thanks for sharing this! Jeanne

    4 years ago

  • rebourne

    rebourne says:

    this is so cool. i had no idea you could toast spices, or even that you could purchase them in whole form. yum! now i want to learn how to grow my own spices and let them go to seed to do this!

    4 years ago

  • PrettyLoot

    PrettyLoot says:

    Mmmm I want some pumpkin pie now -- gluten free though :-)

    4 years ago

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart says:

    MMMM Chai tea sounds so good right now. Thanks for the cinnamon/orange on the stove reminder, I am going to do that this morning...infuse my house with warmth....thanks for promoting the art of culinary! Aloha~Connie

    4 years ago

  • rusticcarvings

    rusticcarvings says:

    Oooh, I'm so going to go get some tea. It'll make this rainy day complete. :)

    4 years ago

  • genisepark

    genisepark says:

    yummy Chai tea sounds so good to day...winter winds and cold outside and the smell is so great inside...

    4 years ago

  • Tigerseyecrafts

    Tigerseyecrafts says:

    I'm another chai tea drinker and will probably order an already made kit. I'm just so busy--you know how it is.

    4 years ago

  • earnestefforts

    earnestefforts says:

    Haven't made my own chai in years. You've inspired me!!! Take care!

    4 years ago

  • FrancesPhotography

    FrancesPhotography says:

    Lovely recipes and I am taking note of the chai - my favourite hot cosy drink - delicious!

    4 years ago

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink says:

    I love cooking and spices do make a difference in taste and moods. For fun try making this quick tea, in 2 cups bolied water add 1-2 dried lemons or lime, simmer, sweeten to taste and you will have a calming digestive tea. :)

    4 years ago

  • pinkbijou

    pinkbijou says:


    4 years ago

  • PlumeandPetals

    PlumeandPetals says:

    what a fun idea!~ Yum =)

    4 years ago

  • Morado

    Morado says:

    Thats exactly how I love my tea :o)

    4 years ago

  • jadjusjewelry

    jadjusjewelry says:

    I love my tea. That's all I drink.

    4 years ago

  • nandlalicu

    nandlalicu says:

    You are advise and tips about winter dinner is amazing You know I really like spicy food in winter session and after Masla Tea Mmmmmm mmmm Very tasty. Romantic Dinner

    4 years ago

  • jewelrycollectibles

    jewelrycollectibles says:

    Yum. Hot tea on a cold snowy day in Portland, ME.

    4 years ago

  • esmeraldadesigns

    esmeraldadesigns says:

    Ahhhhhhhhhh! Trying this right away, thank you

    4 years ago

  • pinkpurr

    pinkpurr says:

    Oh, just what I needed to recharge on a cold snowy long and lingering February day in Montreal, Canada! Thanks for posting!

    4 years ago

  • deesbowsnthings

    deesbowsnthings says:

    This sounds so yummy! I cant wait to try this and sit down an relax with a cup! Thank you!

    4 years ago

  • samsstuff

    samsstuff says:

    Yum, thank you for the chai recipe! I love adding spices to add depth to standard recipes. Cinnamon is great in chili or in mochas & hot chocolate, for example...

    4 years ago

  • YellowViolet

    YellowViolet says:

    I'm addicted to Good4You's Chai tea but I'm going to try this recipe. I love Chai!

    4 years ago

  • MadebyLinLin

    MadebyLinLin says:

    This all looks delicious! I love spices! Cinnamon etc.. yum!

    4 years ago

  • thebeachhousegallery

    thebeachhousegallery says:

    Perfect for this cold winter day! I love chai. And I never thought of searching a recipe from etsy? Who knew? My local barrista makes me the perfect chai drink with whipped soy milk, yum. Thanks, again for the recipe and insightful reminder on toasting spices. Inez Dunn

    4 years ago

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar says:

    what a great Chai recipe-thanks for sharing

    4 years ago

  • btaylorquilts

    btaylorquilts says:

    Wow! I'm going in the kitchen right now to make this! I have all the ingredients, believe it or not!

    4 years ago

  • RoxiesRecipes

    RoxiesRecipes says:

    This is a great article! I always love to see other people who are excited about cooking and baking! I only hope that my books on cooking will help you all!

    4 years ago

  • jiang888

    jiang888 says:

    We’ve added cumin to Mexican black beans, achiote and allspice to braised pork, cloves to an Indian vegetable medley, fennel to a green coconut curry, caraway and cinnamon went into a chickpea soup, and coriander to a vinaigrette. Buy Windows 2008

    4 years ago

  • beadsofaquarius

    beadsofaquarius says:

    Thank you ! :)

    3 years ago

  • AlpineGypsy

    AlpineGypsy says:

    I just adore these recipes. Using spices in this way makes me feel I'm connected to an Older World somehow, and it's refreshingly easy to throw real spices into a pot instead of heading to a Big Box chain of coffee stores to pay for a boxed imitation. So much lovelier for the senses! Thanks again for a great little recipe ~ Heidi

    3 years ago

  • envydesignsjewelry

    envydesignsjewelry says:

    Yum! Love chai tea! Thank you!

    3 years ago

  • linziloop

    linziloop says:

    Mmmm, chai is my fave kind of tea, well, that and Bengal Spice which is like chai times 10! I shall give this recipe a try!

    3 years ago

  • BlakesVintage

    BlakesVintage says:

    0_0 I feel deeply unprepared.

    3 years ago

  • Simag

    Simag says:

    Mmmmm LOVVVE it with soy milk. Thank you for the tips on roasting. <3

    3 years ago

  • TheWindmiller

    TheWindmiller says:

    I made this last night and LOVED it! I'll definitely be making it again. Here are a few notes that might be helpful. I didn't know how long a cinnamon stick I should use (I have really long ones) so I broke off and used about 5 inches. It was perfect. I didn't have loose black tea, so I used 6 bags of decaf Lady Grey, out of the bags. (The bags, opened up, make good filters later on.) My cardamom pods are ancient, so I'm not sure how much they contributed. I'd say go ahead and make it without the pods if you don't have them. Skim milk was fine. Lastly, this is a lot sweeter than I expected! But oh, so good!

    3 years ago

  • jhangfk

    jhangfk says:

    Chai recipe is good, I was offered this chai by People from Punjab. People from Punjab come from different areas of Punjab it is daily routine to drink spicy chai after breakfast, lunch and dinner but every area have different recipe. Some will have Anieseed, pinch salt, sugar and green cardamom, other will use cinnamon and green cardamon, pinch Salt and Sugar, but I find it very heavy and fill stomach, I have to miss either lunch or Dinner. So try to pinch salt to you spicy chia. We call this chai as "Chaah" with means love and hospitalty. So people say if Chai is made without Chaah (LOVE) it can not be Chai. Thanks for recipe.

    3 years ago

  • myneedlehabit

    myneedlehabit says:

    Thanks for re-running this recipe. I'm going to pound down some homemade Chai tonight....:-D

    3 years ago