8 Sweet and Savory Ways to Use Chai Spice
For latte lovers who love loads of flavor, there’s nothing quite like a hot chai drink. The warm mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom is a delicious shake-up from the familiar bitter bite that coffee can provide, and it can liven up the average cup of joe for fans of mixed beverages. But hot and cold drinks aren’t the only vehicles that can showcase chai’s delicious taste. In fact, the spice blend can be used to flavor a wide range of foods, including breadstuffs, ice cream, and rice. Creative cooks can even use it to flavor meats, as we explain below.
To give you ideas on how best to incorporate your chai stash in non-potable concoctions, we’ve rounded up eight tasty examples of chai-infused foods. These recipes can be used directly to create a delicious dinner, or can be used as inspiration for a different chai-flavored dish.
Before we get started, it’s worth mentioning that chai tea mix is a relatively simple thing to mix up at home. You can find a recipe to make your own here. And while you’re making up your chai mix, take a moment to read this piece by Leena Trivedi-Grenier, which explains the drink’s origins and how its popularity in India was sparked by British colonization.
1. Chai Simple Syrup
Get the Recipe: Chai Simple Syrup
Given that we’re trying to steer away from chai’s usual drink form, chai simple syrup might seem like a strange way to start this list. But simple syrup is a powerful ingredient to keep in your pantry because it’s so versatile. Naturally, you can use this simple syrup to make up delicious cold drinks and cocktails, but you can also use it to sweeten up baked goods. If you’re hoping to make an incredibly delicious and super moist cake, you can brush warm cake layers with the syrup before cooling and frosting, or even use it as a glaze on a bundt cake. You could also gently mix it into homemade ice cream to create ribbons of chai flavor that can be savored in every bite. By making up this chai-infused simple syrup, you’ll be able to add a bit of spicy sweet flavor to a wide array of confections.
2. Chai Bread
Looking to continue your bread-making journey during this seemingly endless pandemic? Try your hand at adding chai spice to your favorite loaf. When making bread, chai spices can be added in two different ways: by infusing the tea mix into the wet ingredients (such as milk or melted butter) and by adding the spices directly into your dry goods. After that, you’ll be ready to make up your bread as you usually do. Feel free to experiment with different forms of bread to find your favorite chai-inspired variation. Chai spices make a great addition in banana bread, for example, but we also wouldn’t say no to a fall-appropriate pumpkin bread full of chai goodness.
3. Chai Ice Cream
The only thing better than homemade ice cream is homemade ice cream that tastes like your favorite beverage. For this delicious dessert, simply infuse your ice cream base with chai spices and strain it before adding it to your ice cream churn. You can also use the simple syrup mentioned earlier in this guide if you’d like to skip the straining step. Feel free to add in your favorite ice cream complements, such as chocolate, for an even richer flavor.
4. Chai Fudge
The holidays are quickly approaching, and that means it’s fudge-making season. If you have some gift packages full of cookies, brittle, and bark to finish, consider adding in this chai fudge. It’s a surefire way to get on your loved ones’ good side this winter. Once you’ve figured out how to infuse chai flavor into your fudge base, you can use a similar technique to make the best spiced brownies you’ve ever had.
5. Chai Cheesecake
If you’re a big fan of cheesecake, then you’ll adore a chai-infused version of this classic dessert. For vegans or others who avoid dairy, try using silken tofu, cashews, and plant-based milk for a delicious lactose-free variation.
6. Chai Pudding
What’s better than pudding? Chai pudding! For this dessert, try adding chai spices to your favorite pudding base, or spice up your usual rice pudding with delicious chai flavor. If you’re looking for some extra protein, then you can definitely toss in some chia seeds to boost the nutritional content of your chai-inspired dessert.
7. Chai Rice
Get the Recipe: Curried Pork and Chai Rice
Chai spice might not seem like something to add to a savory dish, but when paired with the right protein and sides, chai can make an excellent addition to your entree. To impart chai flavor into your rice, try cooking brown or white rice in chai tea. The resulting side dish will pair perfectly with curried pork, chicken and much more.
8. Chai Shrimp
Get the Recipe: Chai-Brined Shrimp
Looking for another way to add chai to your main course? Try brining your meat or meat substitute in chai tea. Simply make up your chai tea mix, add ice to cool it down and then allow your protein to soak in the cold tea for at least 20 minutes. Shrimp and other seafood work particularly well in this adaptation, but feel free to adapt it for whatever you may have on the menu.