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Eatsy: Doing Winter the Spicy Way

Feb 23, 2011

by kittykatherine 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.

large chai tea kit with organic and fair trade spices. a perfect gift to warm up a tea lover.
large chai tea kit with organic and fair trade spices. a perfect gift to warm up a tea lover.
Chai Spiced Saskatchewan Honey
Chai Spiced Saskatchewan Honey
$12.00 USD
Craig's Coastal Trio - Louisiana style Cajun, Creole and Caribbean Jerk - flavorful spice rubs for fish, jambalaya, potatoes & snacks
Craig's Coastal Trio - Louisiana style Cajun, Creole and Caribbean Jerk - flavorful spice rubs for fish, jambalaya, potatoes & snacks
Oh So Chai Tea
Oh So Chai Tea
Chai Spice Shortbread Cookies
Chai Spice Shortbread Cookies
Gourmet Popcorn Spice Kit - a great gift for movie/TV lovers in your life - 8 tins filled with delicious spice blends packed in a white box - ready to ship
Gourmet Popcorn Spice Kit - a great gift for movie/TV lovers in your life - 8 tins filled with delicious spice blends packed in a white box - ready to ship


  • bbbennyandthejet

    bbbennyandthejet said 5 years ago

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

  • CarryTheWord

    CarryTheWord said 5 years ago

    What a fun idea!

  • WatchWithDaDa

    WatchWithDaDa said 5 years ago

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

  • CarlyAnnSwift

    CarlyAnnSwift said 5 years ago

    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.

  • hattieshouse

    hattieshouse said 5 years ago

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

  • SugarCubeVintage

    SugarCubeVintage said 5 years ago

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

  • ChrissiesRibbons

    ChrissiesRibbons said 5 years ago

    Yum- will be trying this. Thank you!!

  • ericawalker

    ericawalker said 5 years ago

    Mmm, chai. Thanks for the recipe.

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 5 years ago

    Thank you for this. Could use it right now!

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 5 years ago

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

  • flytrapprints

    flytrapprints said 5 years ago

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

  • CraftsByBabz

    CraftsByBabz said 5 years ago

    Sounds yummy!! Thank you!!

  • Nikifashion

    Nikifashion said 5 years ago

    great pictures!

  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts said 5 years ago

    Oh yum, just yum.

  • DecadesOfVintage

    DecadesOfVintage said 5 years ago

    Thank you so much. Great info

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

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

  • emwi

    emwi said 5 years ago

    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.

  • Lorilan

    Lorilan said 5 years ago

    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.

  • frommylifetoyours

    frommylifetoyours said 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing I love this kind of stuff

  • CraigsMarket

    CraigsMarket said 5 years ago

    looks like a delicious chai recipe - thank you!

  • soule

    soule said 5 years ago

    yummy! I love Chai!

  • pottersong

    pottersong said 5 years ago

    Intresting! Thank you:)

  • karoart

    karoart said 5 years ago

    mouth watering article:)

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 5 years ago


  • christinegoldschmidt

    christinegoldschmidt said 5 years ago

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

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 5 years ago

    Love Chai! Happy to try the recipe!

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie said 5 years ago

    Sound deeelish Kitty. Thanks.

  • Sachi215

    Sachi215 said 5 years ago

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

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 5 years ago

    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.

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 5 years ago

    Sounds delicious! Yum! =)

  • greatestfriend

    greatestfriend said 5 years ago

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

  • collectiblesatoz

    collectiblesatoz said 5 years ago

    Great article! Thanks for sharing.

  • Floreal

    Floreal said 5 years ago

    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.... :)

  • studiopainters

    studiopainters said 5 years ago

    colorful spicy.

  • 22ndandChatty

    22ndandChatty said 5 years ago

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

  • JewelsbyJasmin

    JewelsbyJasmin said 5 years ago


  • JewelsbyJasmin

    JewelsbyJasmin said 5 years ago

    And MisticalAcScents Chai is just sooooo yummy!

  • dearange

    dearange said 5 years ago

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

  • AmberGypsySky

    AmberGypsySky said 5 years ago

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

  • beadstylin

    beadstylin said 5 years ago

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

  • NaturalPetProducts

    NaturalPetProducts said 5 years ago

    Loooooooooovvvvvveee chai, TY for the info! :-)

  • cindylouwho2

    cindylouwho2 said 5 years ago

    mmmm, looks delicious!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 5 years ago

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

  • coolstuffartgallery

    coolstuffartgallery said 5 years ago

    Love this!

  • weezieduzzit

    weezieduzzit said 5 years ago

    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. :)

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage said 5 years ago

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

  • aerome34

    aerome34 said 5 years ago

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

  • themefragrance

    themefragrance said 5 years ago

    perfect recipe! yum!

  • mjca003

    mjca003 said 5 years ago

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

  • lulusnest

    lulusnest said 5 years ago

    mmmm, me hungry now. thanks for sharing!

  • priya123

    priya123 said 5 years ago

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

  • SwitchDesignsNYC

    SwitchDesignsNYC said 5 years ago

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

  • amyfine

    amyfine said 5 years ago


  • TheVinylChalkboard

    TheVinylChalkboard said 5 years ago

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

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    girltuesdayjewelry said 5 years ago

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

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop said 5 years ago

    It sounds amazing, I must try this.

  • abelabodycare

    abelabodycare said 5 years ago

    Going to be trying this. Thanks!

  • astarteearthart

    astarteearthart said 5 years ago

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

  • timeforteame

    timeforteame said 5 years ago

    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...

  • DewdropTreasures

    DewdropTreasures said 5 years ago

    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.

  • TipsyTimeMachine

    TipsyTimeMachine said 5 years ago

    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.

  • Pipkyn

    Pipkyn said 5 years ago

    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!

  • elmstreetmarket

    elmstreetmarket said 5 years ago

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

  • EatenApple

    EatenApple said 5 years ago

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

  • poorjimsvintage

    poorjimsvintage said 5 years ago

    So yummy hearts for food!

  • AliceCouture

    AliceCouture said 5 years ago

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

  • babybayrs

    babybayrs said 5 years ago

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

  • RubyRedDragon

    RubyRedDragon said 5 years ago

    Thank God for chai!!!!! :)

  • blessedvintage

    blessedvintage said 5 years ago

    looks good

  • veeramani

    veeramani said 5 years ago

    Superb :-)

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 5 years ago

    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!

  • symmetricalpottery

    symmetricalpottery said 5 years ago


  • Mattie714

    Mattie714 said 5 years ago

    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!

  • pamwares

    pamwares said 5 years ago

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

  • bmused

    bmused said 5 years ago

    mmmmm...thanks for sharing!

  • steinschmuckdesign

    steinschmuckdesign said 5 years ago


  • vintagerenewal

    vintagerenewal said 5 years ago

    Looks awesome! Thanks for sharing this! Jeanne

  • rebourne

    rebourne said 5 years ago

    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!

  • PrettyLoot

    PrettyLoot said 5 years ago

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

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 5 years ago

    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

  • rusticcarvings

    rusticcarvings said 5 years ago

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

  • genisepark

    genisepark said 5 years ago

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

  • Tigerseyecrafts

    Tigerseyecrafts said 5 years ago

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

  • earnestefforts

    earnestefforts said 5 years ago

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

  • FrancesPhotography

    FrancesPhotography said 5 years ago

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

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink said 5 years ago

    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. :)

  • pinkbijou

    pinkbijou said 5 years ago


  • PlumeandPetals

    PlumeandPetals said 5 years ago

    what a fun idea!~ Yum =)

  • Morado

    Morado said 5 years ago

    Thats exactly how I love my tea :o)

  • jadjusjewelry

    jadjusjewelry said 5 years ago

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

  • nandlalicu

    nandlalicu said 5 years ago

    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

  • jewelrycollectibles

    jewelrycollectibles said 5 years ago

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

  • esmeraldadesigns

    esmeraldadesigns said 5 years ago

    Ahhhhhhhhhh! Trying this right away, thank you

  • pinkpurr

    pinkpurr said 5 years ago

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

  • deesbowsnthings

    deesbowsnthings said 5 years ago

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

  • samsstuff

    samsstuff said 5 years ago

    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...

  • YellowViolet

    YellowViolet said 5 years ago

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

  • MadebyLinLin

    MadebyLinLin said 5 years ago

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

  • thebeachhousegallery

    thebeachhousegallery said 5 years ago

    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

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar said 5 years ago

    what a great Chai recipe-thanks for sharing

  • btaylorquilts

    btaylorquilts said 5 years ago

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

  • RoxiesRecipes

    RoxiesRecipes said 5 years ago

    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!

  • jiang888

    jiang888 said 5 years ago

    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

  • beadsofaquarius

    beadsofaquarius said 4 years ago

    Thank you ! :)

  • AlpineGypsy

    AlpineGypsy said 4 years ago

    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

  • envydesignsjewelry

    envydesignsjewelry said 4 years ago

    Yum! Love chai tea! Thank you!

  • linziloop

    linziloop said 4 years ago

    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!

  • BlakesVintage

    BlakesVintage said 4 years ago

    0_0 I feel deeply unprepared.

  • Simag

    Simag said 4 years ago

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

  • TheWindmiller

    TheWindmiller said 4 years ago

    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!

  • jhangfk

    jhangfk said 4 years ago

    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.

  • myneedlehabit

    myneedlehabit said 4 years ago

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

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