Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

July 15, 2010

When I first heard someone say “chai tea” I sort of cocked my eyebrow and thought to my self; “wait, what?”. Suddenly this phenomena of chai burst out of nowhere and at first I thought it was pretty funny. Technically ‘chai tea’ is a misnomer. In Hindi and a lot of other languages the word chai means tea. It’s not a type of tea, it’s the word for tea. So when someone says “chai tea” I hear “tea tea”. It’s kinda like when someone says “ATM machine” hehe

Then, I discovered the chai latte. And I fell in love. My favourite cafe serves these wonderful vanilla chai lattes sprinkled with cinnamon. I love the flavours immensely.

They remind me a lot of Indian desserts with cardamom and cinnamon, things my Mother makes. So I decided to try and replicate those flavours purely by taste. I have no idea how to make a chai latte, but I do recognise those spices. Today I experimented with a recipe I wrote up last night and amazingly it worked. The batter was incredible and the aroma when they came out of the oven! Amazing. I will share the recipe because it’s something that should be shared in my opinion. I think lovers of that “chai” flavour will love these.

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

(Makes 12)


100g butter

1 cup caster sugar

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

2 eggs

½ quantity chai spice mix (recipe follows)

1 ¼ cups plain flour, sifted

½ cup buttermilk

½ tsp bicarb soda

½ tsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is fine)

Chai Spice Mix

1 ½ tsp ground cardamom

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Vanilla Chai Buttercream

125g butter

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

½ quantity chai spice mix

1-2 tbs cold milk

Preheat the oven to 160C

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in one egg at a time. Stir in half the quantity of chai spice mix. Fold in the flour and buttermilk alternately and stir until combined, don’t overmix. Mix together the bicarb soda and vinegar and mix into the batter.

Spoon into prepared cupcake cases and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until it is creamy and very pale in colour. Stir in the vanilla and the rest of the chai spice mix. Slowly beat in the icing sugar about ½ cup at a time. If the buttercream is too thick add 1-2 tbs of cold milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve!

Butter Chicken

December 1, 2008

butter-chicken

My favourite Indian dish of all time is Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani; a view shared by many all over the world. “No Butter Chicken, No Business” a manager of an Indian takeaway once told me.
Butter Chicken comes in many variations; some contain cashews while others contain many different spices such as turmeric and cumin.

This recipe I want to share is so easy to put together and it tastes amazing… and the aroma! The ingredients aren’t many or complicated so anybody could make this. Best of all this dish is sure to impress anyone. There is nothing more satisfying than cooking something from scratch and not from a bottle.

For the meat I recommend using thigh pieces. Thigh meat is very soft and tender when cooked, unlike breast meat which I find too dry. If you are being health concious by all means use breast meat but with such a rich sauce I find it defeats the purpose.

All the ingredients should be easy to find; most spices are readily available in major supermarkets. Ghee is a common ingredient in Indian cooking. It is clarified butter and can be found in specialist Indian grocers. It is especially important to use ghee and not regular butter as it significantly affects the taste.

Unfortunatley I cannot take the credit for cooking this meal; it was my wonderful Mum who surprised me knowing it was my favourite. I did however do the food styling, the photography and of course the eating!

So please, try this recipe out and let me know what you think!

Butter Chicken

Marinade
1.5kg (3 lbs) diced chicken
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbs finely grated ginger
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp Kashmiri garam masala
1 tbs ghee*

Sauce
1 tbs ghee
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 onion, finely diced
3 tbs tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs fine shreds of ginger
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp Kashmiri garam masala
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Combine garlic, ginger, lemon juice and spices and rub into the chicken pieces. Set aside for an hour. Scrape off any excess marinade and reserve.

Fry chicken in ghee until lightly browned.

For the sauce:
In a heavy pan melt the ghee and cook garlic and onion until soft. Add reserved marinade, tomato paste, salt, sugar and ginger threads. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream. Add pieces of fried chicken and gently stir through the sauce. Cook until the chicken is done, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with garam masala and coriander.

Serve with rice or Indian bread.