Drunken Chai & Masala Cashews
60 Min

Drunken Chai & Masala Cashews

Masala chai is the quintessential fragrant milky brew of India; I wake up with it every morning. However, the story of how tea made its way to India is one of monopoly, adventure and corporate espionage. The Chinese had been growing tea for thousands of years, and around the mid-19th century, the British — who were colonizing India at the time — wanted to break that monopoly. After having sent a botanist spy to China on a years-long mission to acquire tea seedlings and related information, the British started growing tea in the Himalayan foothills to compete with the Chinese monopoly. Tea plantations flourished in the idyllic mountains of Assam and Darjeeling, yet the locals were uninterested in the teas. Until one day, when someone brewed black tea with milk and aromatic spices, and the masala chai was born! Even the word “chai” is derived from the Mandarin word for tea (“cha”). Spiking chai with rosemary and rum is wonderful for evening holiday celebrations — or just relaxation. Cashews coated in spices with mint and pomegranate seeds are a simple yet luxurious rendition of chaats, the beloved street foods of India. All in all, it’s a delicious pairing.
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Cook Time

30 Minutes



Step 1
Combine the water with the ginger, cardamom, peppercorns, and rosemary in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer on the lowest setting for 10 to 12 minutes, allowing the water to infuse with the spices.
Step 2
Raise the heat to high and add milk to the pot. As soon as the mixture boils, taking care to ensure it does not boil over, add the tea leaves or bags. Simmer for 20 to 30 seconds then turn the heat off. Cover the stockpot and let the tea steep for 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 3
Strain, add the rum, and honey and serve immediately.
4 cups water
1 tablespoon grated unpeeled ginger
8 to 10 lightly crushed green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon lightly crushed black peppercorns
3 to 4 sprigs rosemary
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons Assam tea leaves or 3 to 4 black tea bags
2 ounces rum
2 tablespoons honey (or to taste)

Notes & Variations

  • Quality of tea really matters, so source carefully. If using tea bags, the brand we recommend most is PG Tips (available at most Indian or international grocers). If using leaves, use good-quality, strong Assam tea leaves.
  • Masala chai can be prepared with many different flavors: replace rosemary with mint or lemongrass and replace cardamom with cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, or cloves.
  • Replace rum with bourbon or cognac.
60 Min

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