Beautiful imperfection - anise seed pods
Star Anise is the perfect example of a cooking hobbyist’s impulse buy. Typically found in Asian markets for low, low prices, it’s hard to resist the cute stars without dreaming about new and fun ways to use them.
Then they sit in the pantry for 6 months.
I realized they were in the pantry last week, and decided that it was time for them to see the light of day and make something tasty.
The issue I faced was that star anise is very, very visually appealing – but how potent did I want the licorice-like flavor to be in whatever it was that I was making? Recipes abound with the little star garnishes on a dessert. I realized that I wanted the star anise to compliment, rather than dominate, a dish. I decided to make chai tea from scratch.
Always inquisitive, little hands searching for the cup's contents
By the way, in my last post I spoke of the cardamom pod issue I faced – $6 for way too much of a spice I probably wouldn’t use. I found that at my local PCC market they sell cardamom pods in bulk! So I purchased 8 little pods for thirty cents. Silly me, that’s completely affordable.
This Chai recipe is an amalgam of different chai recipes I found online. I prefer my chai to be more sweet than spicy, so I didn’t add too much pepper, and left out cloves altogether. On the other hand, I love the heat of ginger, which some people find to be a turnoff. Suit yourself, have fun and grind up those spices into something lovely.
Lorka’s Chai Tea (serves 1)
1 star anise seed pod
1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cardamom pods
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 tea bags of strong black tea, cut open
Crush the anise, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cardamom together with a mortar and pestle.
Set medium pot on stove, and bring milk, water, tea, ginger, and crushed spices to a boil. Take off range, stir, and sweeten to taste. Honey is best!
Other interesting star anise recipes & info:
Anise sandwich cookies
Star anise flowers!
Grow your own anise
Anise botany and history