My first cup of non-dairy masala chai was handmade by Chef Alka of Roti Alka (now closed) – a local eatery once known for their most amazing vegan Indian food. That chai is the benchmark for my own recipe, even beating the dairy ones I had before (which were probably instant pre-mixes). After much trial, the conclusion is that, a mix of high-fat soymilk and soy barista creamer gives the best body and richness. This recipe is adapted from veganricha’s, working with the non-dairy milks available in Singapore supermarkets with some tweaks of my own to enhance flavour. Perfect thing for the upcoming monsoon season.
Choose a soymilk with the highest fat content on the shelf. I went for Pureharvest (no added cane sugar, original) as it had 6.7g fat per 250ml serving, closest to the 9+g per 250ml of full cream dairy milk. I don’t know the science behind it, but I realised this high-fatness brings out aroma of the spice and caramel richness of the sugar. Next, a soy barista blender gives the creamy mouth feel while boosting the fat content a little. I got the Pacific barista series soy original from higher end supermarkets. Both brands doesn’t separate being gently boiled, unlike other plant milks like coconut. Using only one of them results in a more watered down chai.
¾ cup water
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp black tea leaves (assam or darjeeling worked best for me!)
¾ tsp masala chai blend
1 tsp fennel seeds (optional as the masala blend should have some ground fennel)
1 cup soymilk
½ cup soy barista creamer
Place the water, tea, sugar and spices in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer and reduce till slightly less than half the original amount of liquid. Slowly add in the soymilks and stir, bringing heat down to medium-low. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a cup. I find that flavours developed much more after sitting in a closed tumbler for few minutes. The amount of sugar and spices can be tweaked to your preferences.
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