Lucy in the Larder

A saving cup of Chai-eeeeeee…

Cant sleep? Neither can I.

Any insomniac or suffers of AI disease will understand the pain (yes, I’m that tired it hurts) and frustration you feel when your adrenals are out of whack, you’re producing too much cortisol and your body is preparing to go in to battle, with itself.

I’m doing all the right things to promote what they call “sanitary sleep” before bed – having a hot shower, turning the lights down low, limiting any work on the computer and reading instead of watching TV. I’ve spent the day bouncing around at work and exercising, and I know I’m tired, so tired. I take herbal sleepers, drink copious amounts of my ‘sleepy-time’ tea, listen to meditation podcasts – and don’t forget my calming lavender pillow spray! – but some nights, nothing will work.

My tongue is pressed hard against the inside of my teeth and my mind is racing. There’s a flickering light bulb that swings in front of my eyes and something is buzzing. I can hear my heart beating in my ear as it rests against the pillow and I can forget about even trying to get comfortable. I hide any clocks – it would make it so much worse, psychologically, to see the hours tick by.

Then morning comes and so does a slumber that would rival Sleeping Beauty. My eyes are cemented shut and sitting in morning peak hour traffic becomes a struggle to even stay awake. My thoughts are fuzzy and my speech still a little slow… Someone turn the ignition key, please!

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, and after nights and sometimes weeks on end of this (new mums, I humbly salute you), not even the most beautiful sunrise can offer consolation – and coffee is on the ‘no-no’ list for me. But, this morning, I found solace in a soul-nourishing cup of chai – that wonderful warming spice milk tea from one of my favourite countries, India. It somehow made things warm from the inside out, and the day, a little more bearable.

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They say once you’ve been seduced by chai tea, you never go back. And my first memory of chai was when the theatre of its seduction began… “chai-eeeeeee, chai-eeeeeee”, the call of the chai wallahs signally their location to passengers on our overnight train from Delhi to Mumbai (an experience in itself that I’ll never forget!), about 15-years-ago. People hung out windows to get a cup of the beverage that keeps India running. And if the sellers call didn’t get our attention, it turned to performances on the platforms and up and down the train aisles pouring the chai in a long thin stream, as far from the cup as possible, without spilling a single drop.

I wish I could include some of my photos of the chai wallahs from that trip, but they’re all on paper in photo albums (remember those?!) collecting dust somewhere, so I’ve nicked this from the net – It reminds me of what a happy bunch the Indians are and the smile my morning cup, and every cup, of chai gives me.

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Traditionally, this tea comprises the wonderful spice combination of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, pepper and nutmeg and today, mine also has vanilla. The components in chai deliver so much goodness and there are several health benefits (info. courtesy Body & Soul);

– Reduces cancer risk: Common chai spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and ginger contain antioxidants and phytochemicals with cancer-prevention properties
– Prevents colds: The antioxidants and phytochemicals found in chai work in unison to support our immune system. Ginger, particularly, has gut-boosting properties which benefit our defences. Chai is also beneficial for warming the system when you do have a cold
– Relieves PMS: Chai spices such as cinnamon and ginger have been shown to balance hormones and alleviate pain associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
– Boosts metabolism: Regular consumption of chai spices stimulates digestive and pancreatic enzymes. There is also improved oxygen uptake and fat breakdown. Chai also contributes to the feeling of fullness. All these factors combined rouse our metabolic switches
– Prevents diabetes: Chai spices, if consumed regularly, may assist in regulating blood-sugar levels
– Reduces bloating: All the spices contained in chai enhance the activities of stomach and intestinal digestive components
– Boosts energy: The Indian spices contained in traditional chai teas help facilitate energy production within the body. They are a natural and healthy stimulant, that leads to a more balanced energy release into cells. This is beneficial as a morning kick-start and in preventing the afternoon or early evening energy slump

CHAI (www.theyearinfood.com)

5 slices of ginger
1 ½ cups water
4 whole cardamom pods, crushed
4 black peppercorns
1 stick cinnamon
4 tsp loose black tea
½ cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
2 Tbsp honey or sugar
1 vanilla bean

– In a saucepan over medium heat, add the ginger slices and water. When the water is hot, but before it begins to boil, add the cardamom pods, peppercorns, vanilla and cinnamon. Once the water boils, add the black tea and turn off heat. Cover and allow to steep for three to four minutes.
– Heat the pot over a medium flame once more, and add the milk and honey now. Let the mixture simmer for another three or four minutes. Turn off heat, and serve.

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This entry was published on March 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm. It’s filed under Lucy's plate, Recipes, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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