Real Chai Is Brewed, Not Boxed
In Mumbai, good manners call for offering chai to guests visiting your home. But the chai tastes nothing like the overly sweet lattes made from boxed concentrates that have become a staple of American coffee shops. In India, chai is freshly brewed from tea, whole spices, water and milk, creating a warmly rich, lightly sweetened drink. And the teachers at APB Cook Studio showed us it takes only minutes to make. To brew chai, in a medium saucepan over medium, combine 2 cups water with 1 tablespoon loose black tea, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, 12 finely crushed green cardamom pods, 1 large cinnamon stick and 4 teaspoons whole black peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup whole milk, return to a simmer, then let rest off heat for 1 minute. Sweeten with up to 4 teaspoons white sugar, then use a mesh strainer to strain into mugs.
Citrus as Good to Drizzle as to Drink
We love the sweet-tart flavor of yuzu, a citrus fruit often used in Asian cuisines, and were intrigued by Kayanoya Yuzu Drink Concentrate. It’s intended for mixing with hot water to make a tea, but we also like it in cocktails—to which it adds a lightly sweet lemon-lime- kumquat flavor—and even more in cooking. Mix it with an equal amount of soy sauce for a savory-sweet glaze for salmon and pork roasts, or use it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and steamed or fried dumplings. It’s also delicious straight from the jar, drizzled over hard cheese, yogurt or ricotta. A 280-gram jar costs $14 at usa.kayanoya.com.
We enjoy tahini as a savory topping for roasted vegetables, swirled with yogurt as a dip, even drizzled over hot pasta. But in Greece recently, we developed a taste for flavored varieties of the sesame paste. Macedonian Tahini makes a line of tahinis blended with orange, chocolate and honey. A balance of sweet and bitter, the pastes are meant as sandwich spreads. The tahinis have limited availability on Amazon, but you can easily make your
own. And they belong on far more than just sandwiches. To make a spicy chocolate tahini to drizzle over ice cream or dip fresh strawberries in, whisk together ½ cup tahini, 2 teaspoons honey, 1½ teaspoons cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder. Or for a sweet-and-savory option, mix ½ cup tahini with 2 teaspoons honey, ½ teaspoon grated orange zest and ½ tea- spoon ground turmeric. This is especially good drizzled over grilled fish or roasted root vegetables, or spread on warm naan with sliced figs.
Great Grilling Come to Your Stovetop
Much as we’d love to grill year round, Boston winters deprive us the pleasure at Milk Street. Grill pans are a decent alternative, but they can be smoky, hard-to-clean affairs. Which is why we were so impressed by the pricey but fun indoor Yaki Yaki San Smokeless Grill. Fill the doughnut-shaped clay base with water and set it over a gas burner. Set the clay grilling surface on top and you are ready. Fat and juices drip easily into the water, ensuring easy grilling without smoking up the kitchen. We found the grill produced perfect char marks on most vegetables, but worked best with thinly sliced meats. It also would be great for grilled shrimp and thinner fish fillets. Available for $180 at toirokitchen.com.
Putting a Bit of Flex in Your Slice
At street food stands across Mumbai, we noticed cooks using knives crafted from flexible, almost paper-thin metal with rustic bamboo handles. Called hacksaws, the knives zipped through delicate produce with unbelievable ease. They also were sold for pennies at markets across the city. When we got ours home, we found they excelled at thinly slicing tomatoes, strawberries, soft fruits and other delicate produce. Though we couldn’t source the knives in the U.S., we found that Rena Germany fruit and vegetable knives performed even better. The thin, flexible and lightly serrated blades handled soft and firm produce wonderfully, easily cutting slices of radish thin enough to see through. Available on Amazon as a three-pack for $10.