Masala Chai


again the emerald green pallu of her sari
tucked in at her hips, across her breast,
and cough it up over her shoulder a hush
of paprika and burnt honey across my face.

—   from ‘Wrap’ by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

India is unrelenting and wildly beautiful. It is an endless array of colour and scent and sound, a byproduct of the sheer density of population. It is also a geographic rainbow, from rolling tea hills to dry desert, high buddhist enclaves at the foothills of the Himalaya to incense-wreathed Hindu temples, the bustling metropolis of Mumbai to long stretches of sand and ocean down south. The one consistent thread, the soundtrack of India if you will, is the chai-wallah call to arms: chai, chai, coffee, chai, chai…  Continue reading Masala Chai

Iced Tea, 2 Ways

iced-tea-seven

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
– from ‘Notes from Underground’, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Brisbane summers are not for the feint of heart. By August spring is on the wind, and well before the new year summer has made herself good and comfortable. The air is heavy with moisture and summer dreaming. The sun is bright and hot up in an electric blue sky. Heat waves on top of the regular sub-tropical weather bring regular programming to a stop; all energy is spent on staying still and keeping core body temperature from boiling over. Continue reading Iced Tea, 2 Ways

Brown Butter Cardamom Cake with Chai Buttercream Frosting

brown-butter-cardamom-cake

Content warning: many swears to follow, ‘coz sometimes only a fuck will do.

It struck my quite forcibly recently that I’m not just growing up, I’m growing older as well. We live in a house at the front of a rather large block; up the very back of the block are two more houses that share the same path as us, so that to reach them you have to pass by our house. Living in one of the back houses is a young couple recently moved to Brisbane, and the other is a share house of music students. Last week, one of the musicians stopped us on the path to let us know that they would be having a party on Saturday night, complete with a live band. I hope that’s okay. We assured him it was no problem for us. His reply? Thanks for being so awesome about it. He didn’t invite us to come along. Continue reading Brown Butter Cardamom Cake with Chai Buttercream Frosting

Chai Spice Apple Cake

chai-spice-apple-cake

About a month ago now – after our camping trip in Girraween National Park – we spent a few nights in a wooden cabin in Stanthorpe. Autumn had just started and the leaves were turning all shades of copper and gold, perfect for catching the morning sun. The cabin had a wood heater and a deck hidden amongst the trees. There was no internet connection and no phone reception; we watched movies, ate chocolate in bed, and marveled as W took her first proper walk across the room. It was a most lovely way to spend a few days.

We also ate copious amounts of apple pie, went apple picking, and drank the best apple cider EVER. A big old tin shed filled with mismatched wooden tables and chairs, Sutton’s serves sweet and savoury pies and a selection of apple-themed takeaway goods – everything from apple juice to apple cider vinegar. The three of us strolled through their orchards, leisurely tasting apples right off the tree, slowly filling up a bag to take home with us. W definitely loved it – gorging on apples and falling over in the soft grass. Continue reading Chai Spice Apple Cake

Tea in Hoi An

TeaSetting

I am an avid tea drinker. Our kitchen bench is piled high with teapots and jars of tea leaves. Morning isn’t really morning for me without a cup of tea. Or morning tea. Or afternoon tea. Or bedtime. You get the drift. Tea. I like to drink it.

So when, on our recent trip to Vietnam, we stumbled across a perfect tea house in Hoi An, it quickly became our favourite haunt. It was everything a tea house should be – simple, with wooden beams overhead and big windows in the front to let in the natural light. Jars of tea and spices were arranged along the counter and the handmade tea sets were carefully arranged across the tables. Continue reading Tea in Hoi An