From Little Acorns … the Start of My Passion for Indian Spiced Chai

From a little acorn, figuratively speaking, my passion for Indian spiced chai grew. Unlike the mighty oak that grows slowly, my thirst for this tasty version of hot tea grew quickly. Read on to see the tale of that acorn, where it came from, and how it grew!

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You go around spreading acorns everyday, usually without even realizing or intending it. Well, years ago in a galaxy far, far away…uh, I mean, in an Indian restaurant in Washington, DC, I had joined a group of friends for lunch. Little did I know that the acorn of my passion for spiced chai would be planted in my brain. But it was and here’s how:

We were ordering our drinks and I had requested a diet soda (back when such beverages were still on my list of allowed potables). One of the folks at the table suggested that I try the spiced chai instead (officially, it’s “masala chai”). He said that since I liked tea with milk and sweetener and spicy foods (my fondness for preparing my own homemade curry was by then legendary among them), that the spiced chai would probably suit me. My bravado was in high gear that day, so I said, “Sure!”

His observation turned out to be very astute. First, the chai was not a hot spicy and very mild overall. Second, milk turns out to be one of the best things to have with spicy foods, since the casein in milk has been shown to help neutralize the capsaicin in spicy foods (the ones where hot peppers were used). Of course, a mango lassi (see this great recipe) would also have suited the occasion, but the spiced chai was something I just had to try! And it certainly was tasty as well as helping to cool the burn from that spicy dish I’d ordered (not sure which it was, but was very likely a lamb curry, since that is my favorite).

So sorry that I can’t remember his name and that it was in the days before digital cameras, blogs like this, and social media sites. But this thank you goes out through the ether anyway, along with photos from a much more recent experience in 2010 at an Indian restaurant in North Carolina (none near our new home here in Oklahoma).

Who knows? Maybe I just planted an acorn in someone else’s mind!

© 2015 A.C. Cargill photos and text

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