MidWinter Minnesota Masala!!

This recipe came about last night, from my desire to sip chai but my necessity to get some immune boosting spices circulating.

I also have a habit of making overly caffeinated beverages too close to bedtime, and since I had a rather homely looking bag of rooibos laying around,  I decided it was worth the risk of a new recipe experiment. I basically threw in every spice I had that I’d heard might be good for fighting whatever keeps creeping into my sinuses. I did not keep an exact measurement but promise to try and post after more experimentation. The nice thing is, I think this mixture could be pretty open. One thing I’ll say is turmeric can get a bit strong, and I actually had purchased one I didn’t like very much at all. I’ll have to investigate which company, but I really like this little bottle from Whole Foods, it’s quite floral and nice in delicate drinks like this. It is also Fair Trade and Organic, which I am really seeking out in my spice purchases.

So, I threw in a bit of each of the following…


Black Pepper

Turmeric Powder

Ground Ginger

Dried Ginger

Fresh Ginger

Dried Rose

Fennel Seeds

Vanilla Bean


Cinnamon Bark ( Actually, technically it was Cassia, but its what you most likely have in your cupboard, we’ll discuss that further cinnamon week!)

Star Anise

Red Rooibos Tea

As I said I don’t have exact measurements, I’d say a good amount of ginger and turmeric were used as well as black pepper and cardamom. I snipped up half a vanilla bean, a good handful of rose. I don’t like an overly licoriced cuppa, so I went easy on the star anise. I also went easy on the cloves. But, you can tailor this to your own palette!

Lastly, I have been going by a general formula of boiling all tea and spices for about 5 minutes, then adding milk/nutmilk/coconut oil or milk and brining to boil again for a minute or so. Finally, I usually add sugar at the end but I just put honey straight into the cups to stir in this time, since I was going for an Immuni-Tea :). I am in favor of raw honey for this, especially when I am sick.

I thought it turned out great, warming and calming. I liked it so much that I crushed up a batch to be stored this week. I have down the same with my regular masala black tea blend, and I made a half and half this morning to get a bit of caffeine.

Any questions? What do you put in your chai? What’s been working for you? I will say, in regards to milk and sweeteners… I have been trying to go easy on them, but I really do enjoy my chai when its almost a half and half ration. Something about the milk and fat really brings out the flavor and body of the spices. I’d love to hear your thoughts!



I have so many other posts to catch up on,  and have done so many on my love for Masala but fellow Tumblr blogger janvangoyen posted a question about the best prepared chai, and as I couldn’t figure out how to respond to her using Tumblr, I decided to make a whole post about it!

Writing posts about chai never fails to inspire  an aching wanderlust, and I hope some day very soon I’ll get to try chai in India for myself. For now I have interspersed gorgeous images ( source found in captions and below) so make reading and writing this post from my Minnesota living room while the still very cold wind whips outside just a bit brighter. I am of course sipping Bhakti Chai, which helps ;)

This post is largely about relatively “instant ” or premixed chai. as the creating and cooking of the whole leaf/whole spice sort could be a blog all on it own!

From what I have tried, my favorites for this are, in no particular order:

Tea Source Chai

Tea Source makes a great blend, I have only tried their Tea Source blend but looking now they have many on the website I haven’t seen. I’ll have to try those! My friend Amber bought their Chai Tea Tin, which I thought all in all was a great deal considering the amount of spices (which come in their own little separate tin, powdered) it includes. They do have interesting directions for it, and don’t get my wrong it taste great although on the sweet side as they used sweetened condensed milk, ( still has a nice amount of spice) but I think one could make the spices stretch even further, as the directions on the tin are for making their “goop” which you add to brewed black tea. Another great thing about Tea Source chai is they are always brewing it, and you can go instore and enjoy a hearty cup, or even better, share a pot with a friend.

Blue Lotus Chai

Now, am I a sucker for a free mini bamboo spoon? Yes, yes I am. (especially if it’s sustainably forested) Would I possibly even be swayed to purchase a product due to cute little marketing techniques? Yes, yes I would. So I was REALLY hoping to like Blue Lotus Chai when I was given a small bag of it ( spoon included!!! Thanks Nan!) And in fact, I loved it! Blue Lotus is great in many ways, it’s sustainable, budget friendly ( one little 3 oz tins makes 100 cups!) Easy to travel with and requires no fuss. It comes in multiple flavors as well. I really love what this company is doing and I think they make a brilliant and tasty little product!

Rishi Chai

Now, Rishi Tea doesn’t make a powered chai that I’m aware of, but they do make a wonderful chai loose mix, as well as a great concentrate. See below..

A few of my favorite things aside from the great balance of sweet and spice is this brands commitment to ethical sourcing from ancient trees they help cultivate and protect, as well as their company ethos. More and more I try and commit to companies that are functioning on a level beyond business as usual and I think Rishi does that.

Bhakti Chai ( I have only had their liquid form but I think they are beginning to sell whole leaf mixes as well)

Bhakti Chai also has a great company, ethically driven, Fair Trade, socially active and a great blend. If you like SPICE and less sweet this is a great choice, and their pre bottled drinks are fresh and dairy free. I haven’t tried their Coffee Blend yet but it’s next on the list.

Lastly, a brand I would love to try but just haven’t ordered yet is… 

Firepot Chai

Photos above from this blog post…I have heard the possibility of Firepot coming to Minneapolis perhaps and I’ll be so excited if it does!!  Also, of significant note, Firepot has won the North American Tea Championships for the last two years in a row!!

These companies all seem to cool to be a part of and work for! Maybe being a chai wallah is my true calling…

I have to say, in hope of not offending any one, I feel like Minneapolis with the exception of a few places, Namaste Cafe being one, is sorely lacking in good chai. I’m sorry favorite coffee spots, if you are reading this I love you, for your coffee, but most of you miss the mark where chai is concerned. New tea company Verdant Tea is producing one in house that I do like, and a few places are carrying that. Perhaps it’s time to develop my own blend??

This post is running quite long but I wanted to do these brands I love justice, and I hope I have. I’d love to hear, which chai do you enjoy?

This chilly Spring night inspired me to post another Chai Recipe!

Gorgeous photo of a Chai Wallah at the Pushkar Camel Fair via here


  1. * 2 Cup filtered water
  2. * 3 cloves
  3. * 1 star anise
  4. * 2 cinnamon sticks
  5. * 4 black peppercorns
  6. * 1 fresh ginger (1 inch) sliced
  7. * 16-24 cardamom seeds (2-3 pods) depending on how strong you like it
  8. * 2-4 TBSP honey (optional and to taste)
  9. * 2 Cup whole milk (organic) can use rice, soy or almond milk
  10. * 6” square cheesecloth (optional)
  11. * 4 bags green, black or yerba matte tea (6-8 teaspoons loose tea)


  1. Bruise you cardamom pods to expose the seeds inside. This can be done by hitting them with the back of a spoon. Note: the seeds and pods are both used
  2. Place all spices in the cheesecloth except the cinnamon. Making a pouch, tie the cheesecloth shut with kitchen twine. You will need a good strainer if you do not use cheesecloth
  3. Place water in medium size pan and then add spice pouch and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Add tea and cover. If using loose tea, place in tea strainer or cheesecloth before adding. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, depending how strong you like your chai. Add honey. Cool
  4. If you did not use cheesecloth strain the spices
  5. To serve, mix 1 part chai mixture to 1 part milk of choice. Heat slowly or serve cold. Enjoy का आनंद लें

Five unrelated-but -not -really-so-unrelated pretty things, aka today’s little slice slice of color, because it’s been gray for days.

Top: Lily Stockmans gorgeous blog Big Bang Studio…and the company she runs with her sister Hopie, blockshoptextilesGo check them out now, just go, you’ll thank me!

Next: A beautiful space showcasing a handira

MIddle: A photo I took, inspired by the rouge and color play at Saterglantan, an amazing craft college in Sweden, while studying there three years ago.

Next: Beautiful botanical print including one of my favorite spices: saffron

Last: A lovely announcement for a Nordic textile exposition. I really hope to visit Scandinavia again some day, I have been literally overwhelmed by not only the beauty of the aesthetic but the strong, ancestral pull I have felt each time I’ve been there.

That’s all for today, what is inspiring you?


Botanical drawings for a dreary ( weather wise) Sunday!

I have neglected the long posts here lately, but this week I had a good reason. I performed in the Minneapolis edition of Encyclopedia Show: Spices! I had no idea what I was in for but wrote a spoken word piece on heritage and history, personal and spice based, and went out and purchased black pepper, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon to adorn the tables of Kieran’s with!

I need to edit the poem but will post it here, for now please enjoy these gorgeous botanical drawings of tonight’s spices!

Excited to try this new brand, Firepot Chai! They just won the Chai category at the North American Tea Championships, for the second year in a row! When I saw that, my curiosity was piqued! Plus, and most importantly, they are committed to ethical practice. Here’s an entry on them and one of the places they visited to seek out their tea source. Have your tried their tea? What did you think? Looking now to find a bottle and try for myself! I found the picture above on their website, though I don’t know it’s original source. The chai maker ( chai wallah ) is pouring kullad chai, which I wrote about here.

Enjoy your day!


This weeks spice is Turmeric!!

I had planned on doing Ras El Hanout,

but due to inspiration of color and palette, a deep winter frigid setting in, and it’s close relationship to saffron, I thought Turmeric was more appropriate.

Plus, one of my very favorite blogs, Green Kitchen Stories, is also talking turmeric this week! We will cover turmeric’s many uses: including gorgeous tribal facial ornamentation, it’s seedy or “rooty” :) role in the sale of faux-saffron, and it’s many many healing properties.  I’m so excited to share with you!

Plus a new blog I discovered while looking through turmeric photos ( the middle one is via this blog, Big Apple Curry, and a genius rule the author came up with for those of us who didn’t grow up cooking with indian spices!



I have seen the light! And it is the golden color of turmeric….

This post is basically a celebration of the gorgeous blog, Green Kitchen Stories

I really admire their stunning photos and wonderful and healthy recipes. They also travel to far corners of the land ( they are based n Sweden) and manage to also raise an adorable child. I really would love to meet them someday. In the meantime I will share their work!

Here are two turmeric recipes, and a variation on one which Louise ( one half of the Green Kitchen Team) posted a while back on her instagram. NOTE All of these incredible photos are theirs, with the exception of the last one. That was my own photo from last spring, the Turmeric Immune Boosting Lhassi was actually the very first recipe I tried of theirs!

Enjoy these! And plea do check out their blog, and cookbook. I have been dying to purchase it since sit cam rout and will do it very soon. What are you cooking with this week?




Chai Pilgrimage, and this weeks spice!

Hello everyone! I’ve been away from the blog for just under a week, my husband and I took a trip to San Francisco and it was just what we needed!

I was overwhelmed by colors, smells and tastes, and I’m excited to post them here.

But, I’m going to focus for now, on the book that was waiting for me when I got home, Chai Pilgrimage. This is a gorgeous book and a must for an lover of art, chai, India, Ayurveda, spices, or life in general! It’s a true celebration but it is also very informative and helpful, including many recipes. I have tried two of them and the second one, for Guru Chai was spectacular! You can see my photo of it above, a few saffron threads adorning the top. It took me a while to make and did not use inexpensive ingredients! I stared at the creamy milky pot and feared it’s taste might underwhelm me. I couldn’t have been farther from the truth, and it is a seriously special chai. I was so inspired I decided to have a few friends over next week to share in it. I have decided at this juncture not to post the recipe until I feel it out from the books authors and illustrator. They are an independent husband and wife team named Jenny Kostecki-Shaw and Patrick Shaw, and they Kickstarted to publish the book. I am still learning  the politics of blogging, social media, and intellectual content, but for some reason since it is not published online that I know of, I want to ask first before I put it here.

One thing I did notice, was that the only ingredient in the chai I was missing was allspice. Of all the different powders, berries, roots and spices I have amassed in the last few months, I am missing a classic cabinet element! So, I decided it should be my spice this week. I’m excited to explore it. Here's a blog with a long entry on allspice and here is a great BBC article which includes recipes!

How was everyone’s week? What have you been cooking with? I found a great chai cart in San Francisco called, The Chai Cart, have any of you been? I loved their chai and it’s available on Amazon! I tried their Rose Chai which  was a unique and floral treat.


I’m leaving…on a jet plane!

I can;t believe it! We are finally flying away from Minnesota grey and ice chunks and headed towards sunny er.. probably foggy all week but still exciting San Francisco!

We don;t take trips often so this is just what we needed and I am seriously looking forward to drinking coffee at new places, new sights, checking out spice shops and in general just relaxing with my husband. A great way to kick start the Summer!

Here are some glimpses of my packing process…I learned this neat trick about travel from A Cup of JO to choose one or two colors two pack for a trip, and I’ve been doing it ever since!

We are really excited to try Blue Bottle Coffee, especially the Heath Ceramics location where you can sip from beautiful pottery!

I love Blue Bottle’s name origin story, pretty wild!

I can’t wait to go to Spice Ace, rated one of the best spice shops in the world  and which I wrote about ( among others) in this post.

We also plan to spend a day driving to the Muir Woods to see those magnificent Redwoods, and catch up with two friends form high school who both live in the city and are graciously letting us crash there!

I will try to update form there but mostly I can;t way tot have inspire posts when i get back! What are your favorite places to go in San Francisco? Where do you go? I’d love to know!




Nutmeg... the 17th century iPhone? A fair trade for the entire island of Manhattan? Cozy christmas spice or a seed with a dark and sordid past??

Well, the answer is, a bit of all of the above. I have fallen behind on my spice quest but I have been plotting other spices research so not to worry! However, I’d really like to stay consistent with my yea rod spice, and as I purchased two beautiful , richly scented new globes of it this weekend, I thought it might be time to talk about Nutmeg. Plenty to come, but for now, I just couldn’t get enough of these gorgeous botanical prints…so this post is a little slideshow of those. Photo sources as well as links to other great blog entires about this naughty little nugget can be found below!

Take the few minutes to listen to this great NPR link, fascinating! SO much more to come!





Tiny red threads of gold…

Well, as usual this post started out as a quick quip about a delicious looking recipe and now, hours later I’m waist deep in both stunning photos and political stories about  the saffron trade and production. It is a constant conflict for me in this blog, and one I have written about here and here.

It seems to be even more pronounced with Saffron, such a beautiful and mysterious spice, a luxury everywhere, still harvested by long days of manual labor…it’s a really striking dichotomy, and most of us, myself included, just don’t know that much about it. Why is saffron so expensive? What makes it so special? How can we contribute to the healthy economies of countries that rely on it while not enabling unfair labor? I don’t have all the answers but am working to find them. We can start by buying from companies that are committed to ethical trade and labor practices, although I have found this to be difficult to ascertain within the world of spices. I have mentioned one company a few times here, and someday soon I hope to order from the but they are located in Copenhagen, a named ASA. In my own experience it is much easier to identify these companies when buying things like chocolate, coffee and tea. Spices don’t seem to be there quite yet. Do you know of companies that are sourcing ethically and using sustainable growing standards? I would love to feature them!

Finally, let’s get to the recipe!

This post I found via Journey Kitchen, a really really beautiful blog I have been cooking from a lot lately, is a guest post by her friend from ECurry, another blog I have just discovered on Indian cuisine!

It jumped out at my as I was sitting mucking through my oatmeal, for obvious reasons. Also, I am still looking for recipe to try involving saffron. I made these olive oil saffron cookies this weekend, and will blog about them soon. But, while they were good, they didn’t blow my mind, which has been the case most times I have used saffron.  I do love using it, it’s gorgeous red threads bleed into other ingredients and you feel like an exotic temptress, (a nice break from a thirty-something midwestern cook in a tiny duplex kitchen that usually needs tidying) and it feels exciting to use such a rare and expensive ingredient, even your sugar cookies become an indulgent luxury! But, I just can’t fall in love with the taste yet. It doesn’t help that my sweet taste tester husband really dislikes saffron, and can’t seem to get too excited about anything I make with it. But then I read this story from the Spice House in Milwaukee…

Coupe Grade Spanish Saffron

"Not always available because of its rarity, this is the highest quality of saffron from the top country of origin. All the threads have been hand-selected to contain only the red, or most flavorful, threads.

This “coupe” grade has powerful coloring properties. Due to its extremely rare nature, we were able to entice Julia Child into opening a one-pound tin for us during one of her visit’s to Milwaukee. Immediately upon opening, the exotic scent of these delicate flowers filled the air with their rare perfume, enchanting all of us! A signed tin remains with us as a memento of her visit”. Source: The Spice House

 Julia Childs opening the tin!!

Coupe Grade Spanish Saffron!

and i was determined to trace down that exquisite experience for myself!

Plus, a cute tiny map of where it’s from:

This post is taking on a life of it’s own ( I have already collected way too many photos of saffron tins…that will have to be it’s own post!)

So I’ll close with a few links to articles if you’d like to read of more on Saffron:

The Top 12 ( apparently) benefits of Spanish Saffron

A really helpful and interesting article on how to cook with it, why you should never buy ground saffron and why it pairs so well with vanilla.

An interesting short article and amazing series of photos of the harvest in Kashmir 

Finally, find that recipe for Mango Pancakes with Saffron Cream here!

Lastly, from the same blog, a great short definition of curry


Happy Sweet Sunday!!!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I ended it with beautiful cocktails at a dear friends house; dill aquavit, orange blossom water and tonic in the garden. Much of the weekend was spent stewing however, about projects, plans, trips, goals and how to accomplish them all.

It’s time for me to turn off technology for the night so I’ll (truly!) make this post short and sweet..er..spicy and salty rather! In the last week I discovered both these companies, La Boite in NYC and The Reluctant Trading Experiment. They are two different companies with two very different origin stories, what struck me most was what they share; that when it cam down to it they just started. The took a leap. The looked around assessed what they needed ( not much) and as they would say in French, found the courage to lancer. I have my own project tI;m very excited about that I’ll wait to go into details about but all I can say discovering these two companies was a true stroke of serendipity for me. Reminding me to strip it down to the minimum necessities, the elemental ( salt of the earth and the king pepper spice among them, Oh the symbolism!) and just move forward with your vision. Away we go….

Great excerpt from article below:

"Lev Sercarz drew up a business plan and tried to raise a six-figure sum to start a shop that would combine his interests in spices and baking. He would package the blends and sell the biscuits to show them off. He failed to raise a single dollar. One night, on the phone, Roellinger asked what he actually needed to start the business. Lev Sercarz replied, a room, an oven, a $15 coffee grinder and some containers. “See,” the Frenchman said, “you don’t actually need the money. Just go ahead and start.” The shop opened in 2010, offering a collection of 41 blends that took Lev Sercarz six years to develop.”

Ps. Do take the time to watch the embedded video!! I love it and will be doing a full post on The Reluctant Company soon ( after my tellicherry peppercorns and flaky sea salt have arrived!!)

Watch Reluctant Trading’s video here!

A great read on Lior, owner of La Boîte

Photo Credits: The first five photos are property of and sourced from the Reluctant Trading Experiment. Check out their homepage for beautiful galleries of Iceland and India! 


Hello everyone! Well, I am behind in my spice a week goal, but wanted to share this impromptu chai party i had last weekend!

I will post some more information about allspice ( last weeks spice) end pick a new spice for this week, tomorrow!

After having the gorgeous Chai Pilgrimage book in my house for less than a week, I was so inspired by the colors, recipes and travel stories of international hospitality that I decided I’d have my own little Sunday sipping soiree. I had to keep my party “small batch” like my chai ;) this time, I have a small abode and worried a bit about burning pots of saffron scented chai in a flutter of distraction! The party made me realized how much I want to have a space someday to host and share with people, a slightly larger house of course but even more, a business. Like a 21st century spice salon!

I made three different chai’s, all from scratch. A big batch of the Chai Pilgrimage Guru Chai, ( a spicy saffron goats milk chai) the Chai Masala from the CP boo, and my own special Rooibos Turmeric Rose blend, which I blogged about here.

I also made the Yogi Chai Biscuits from the book, as well as Blue Bottle Coffee’s Saffron Vanilla Snickerdoodles.

I had so much fun preparing evening and really tried to focus on it as an offering, sending out good intentions, love and gratitude. I especially try and do this now whenever I use spices when you know that something like saffron takes hours and hours of a intense backbreaking human labor to yield a tiny jar like the one that sits in your kitchen, it really alters your perspective.

Many people brought crackers, chocolate or offerings, as sen above. The house filled with incredible scents and warmth, and a truly unique sense elf our own little chai community. it was such a fun afternoon and each chai was delicious and unique in it’s own way.

Here is a link Jenny of Chai Pilgrimage was kind to share, if you’d like to make some of these on your own. The recipe ( approximate) for my own chai is in the blog entry linked to it.

I should add that i am not sponsored in any way by Chai Pilgrimage , and I bought the book on my own, I just love their work and story so much, and am so happy to support and encourage other to buy from small businesses and artist like them that I enjoy posting about it and spreading the chai love! I will do a separate post and the book and the fascinating couple behind it, soon!

That’s all for now, more spice tomorrow, falling asleep to freezing rain/sleet/snow on the rooftops…

buona notte and sweet saffron dreams!


It’s here! My eagerly awaited shipment from fabulous Copenhagen spice shop, ASA!!! I did an interview a few weeks back with the owner of ASA and was so excited to order a selection of spices. Here’s just a quick glimpse, even  opening the box was a sensory experience as one of the curries had opened a bit in transit ( notice my curry dusted fingertips!) and a vanilla bean tube had popped off, allowing an intoxicating mix of vanilla and indian spices intermingle when I opened the box, quite the olfactory experience! So excited to share these all with you as I continue to cook my way across the continents, this time via Denmark! Thank you for the beautiful order ASA!


My spice cupboard runneth over…with saffron no less!

When I started my blog last November, I’d barely tasted saffron. I didn’t have any idea where this whole thing would go or what it might turn in to. Today I was gifted my fifth gram of saffron. If you know any thing about this “red gold” you know that is an almost obscene amount, and in turn I feel very, very fortunate. (If your wondering why saffron is so expensive, you may find the answer here or in a piece I wrote about it, here.

I  feel like the universe is telling me something, there is a beautiful metaphor in the fact that in less than a year I have been able to manifest an abundance of this kind. Not to mention that this is Kashmiri saffron, often regarded as the most prized. It was because of an interview early on in my blog (that still needs to be published) with incredible chef Sameh Wadi of Saffron and World Street Kitchen here in Minneapolis that I even discovered this special strain of it, and later through ASA spice and chef Julian there that I was first able to experience it and finally understand the scope of flavor and history that makes saffron what it is. And yet, while saffron is without question a luxury item for many, it is because of the amount of labor and focus it requires from others, often across the world from us. This is what makes saffron so sacred to me, it is truly humbling  to infuse my chai with something someone else has quite literally broken their back for. Saffron represents decadence but also hard work and long days, and finding a balance in life of these if your are lucky enough to have access to the former, is absolutely necessary.

On the eve of this new moon I reflect on how far I have come in this last year and something about begin handed another box of saffron today tapped into the profundity of the potential there is for where I am going. I am so very very grateful for the chance and hope I can honor people who do not have the same opportunities  in some way, by following this path I am on and seeing where it leads me.






World Best Spice Shops!

Where are your favorite spice shops? Recently I was researching for our upcoming visit to San Francisco (!!!!) and was happy to discover that a small independently owned store I had read about there: Spice Ace, was listed as one of the World’s Best by Food and Wine! I was happy to see Milwaukee’s Spice House there as well. We are contemplating moving there someday and it’s great to know there is a historic , family owned operation like that nearby where i could learn from!

One store I am dying to go to is ASA, a small but gorgeous looking store which started in Copenhagen, but has branched out to India. I would LOVE to work for them and do some sort of apprenticeship!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and favorite store!

Photos 1-6 are from the Food and Wine article, which I link to above. Photos 7 and 8 of ASA I found via Pinterest, and I believe the original source was the blog My New Roots

Here’s the link to the full Food and Wine feature and the inside glimpse into other beautiful spice shops! It’s a bit tricky to figure out, but clicking on each photo will bring up information on the store to your right.

Lastly, a great explanation about why spices matter so much, courtesy of the Spice House. ( picture above is their Chicago store)