Make Your Own Iced Coconut Chai

 ,  |  Updated: August 17, 2013 12:58 IST

Make Your Own Iced Coconut Chai

Coconut chai: an authentic, sweet and spicy south-Asian draught that recalls balmy Indian evenings.

I first tried chai at a rave in Goa many years ago. My memory of the evening is disjointed, but vivid. I get flashbacks.

The first thing to do was to find a party. In the strip leading down to Calangute beach, cab drivers lined up to whisk you off to oblivion. "No party, no pay!"

You roared along the unlit roads until you came across another car. The driver would stop, wind down his window, and ask where the party was that night - in Konkani, the local language, which I sadly don't speak. The conversation would be animated but unintelligible save the odd word. It went something like this:

Driver 1: "... party ..."

Driver 2: "... bamboo forest ..."

And off you raced. As you got closer, the driver turned off his engine every 200 yards, listened carefully, and used the sound of the thumping bass carried on the hot night air to guide you in.

Then you sat on a rug on a hillside washed in ultra-violet light that made your teeth glow. Around you people scoffed hash-laced cakes and diet pills simultaneously without irony and danced a bit. At some point I am sure a horse in ceremonial dress wandered across the dance floor. But mostly we drank lots of chai, which was delicious.

The Goan government has wisely put a curb on these parties, but you can use this recipe to recreate the vibe. It substitutes milk with coconut milk, which makes it more luxurious and grown up.

Make your own chai iced coconut tea

Serves 4-6
1 cinnamon stick
½ vanilla pod
1 slice root ginger
1 star anise
2 cardamom pods
1 clove
1 litre water
4 tea bags (darjeeling or orange pekoe)
Honey, to taste
4 tbsp thick coconut milk

1 Simmer all the spices in a large pan with 250ml of the water for 5 minutes.

2 Add the tea bags. Remove from the heat and steep for about 4 minutes, then discard the tea bags.

3 Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for 2 hours.

4 Strain through a sieve into a jug. Half-fill six glasses with ice and pour the tea on top.

5 Sweeten with honey if desired and top with coconut milk before serving.

Henry Dimbleby is co-founder of the natural fast-food restaurant chain Leon (@henry_leon)

Use this recipe to recreate the vibe of a Goan summer party. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian



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