Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Spice - Masala Chai Ice Pops

A small, neighborhood Indian restaurant - red tablecloths, bright lights.  RAINA, African-American, late 20's, sits at a table with her LAME EX-BOYFRIEND, British, late 30's - the kind of guy you'd look at at think, "Wow, how did he get such an awesome, nice, smart girlfriend?"  

A WAITER, East Asian, mid-40's,  in a red waiter's jacket, approaches the table, clears the remains of a thoroughly enjoyed meal.

Can I get you anything else?

A cup of chai, please.


Yeah.  Chai. 

Waiter snatches the remaining dirty plates from the table and brusquely heads towards the kitchen. 

What was that all about?

I'm drunk.

Raina looks over at the waiter.  Dirty dishes still in hand, he has joined a group of other uniformed servers.  He shares some angry words with them then tosses his chin in her direction.  All the waiters crane their necks and look at her.
Is it just me or do those guys hate me?

I am whack and have 
nothing interesting to say.

The waiter approaches.  He slams a cup and saucer in front of Raina.  It's plain black tea with a lemon and a side of milk.  It could have come from a diner.  Waiter gives her a fake smile.

Here's your chai.

Oh, no.  I wanted the 
milky, you know spicy, chai.

Waiter rolls his eyes and walks away.  Raina turns to Lame Ex-Boyfriend.

What did I do?

He doesn't answer and, without making eye contact, slowly nudges the check in her direction.


That was a completely true and unbiased scene out of the movie version of the story of my life.  You know, the one that only plays on the giant screen in my head.  So, other than the obvious fact Halle Berry would be a perfect casting choice, what have we learned?  

Well, I think it's fairly obvious chai means plain ol' tea - nothing more, nothing less.  A friend's mom taught me that if I want what Americans call "chai," I have to ask for "masala chai."  That one word would have saved me so much attitude from the ENTIRE STAFF of that place.  Jeez.

On the bright side, now when I'm in an Indian restaurant in NYC and I ask for masala chai, I get mad respect. 

Anywho, today's inspiration comes not from London but from lovely, wonderful, absolutely delicous Jackson Heights, Queens where the masala chai flows like a sari.  Take the 7, E, F, or (if the stars are aligned just right) the G train to 74th and Roosevelt.  There are two spectacular East Asian markets in the vicinity: Patel Brothers and Apna Bazaar.

At Patel Brothers, I bought garam masala, star anise, and cardamom seeds.  At Apna, I got Horlicks and Digestive cookies.  Oh, the next few editions of Sunday Spice are will be cray-zay, my friends.  Cray-zay.

I used the garam masala in this recipe though I am not all together sure that is "correct."  I mean, it's my blog and I'll make mistakes if I want to but, you know, it would be nice to get it right.  Eh, all of life's an experiment and they tasted good to me, my boyfriend, and my next door neighbor, so here we go!

Masala Chai Ice Pops
3 tablespoons Garam Masala 
2 cups milk
5 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons loose black tea (asssam, English Breakfast, or keemun for a smokier taste)

Combine everything except the tea and bring to a boil.  
Remove from heat and add tea.
Let steep for 4 minutes.  
Let cool to room temp then pour into pop molds.

Rocket ice pop molds from Tovolo, cute but too phallic in photos.  So...

I had to do extreme close ups...

and eat the top before snapping these pictures.


  1. Great, I was just at Patel Bros. last week stocking up on spices and such.

    I don't have an ice cream maker, but this recipe I can do! Looks delicious :)

  2. Check out Apna, too, if you don't already shop there. Good stuff!

  3. Unfortunately the color combined with the shape of the pop causes a problem.... LOVE THE CONCEPT OF YOUR BLOG! And the story-telling is fantastic ;)

  4. You're right - it's the shape as well as the color. Yikes! Thanks for reading.