The Quarantine Cookbook: Spice it up with masala chai

As we settle in to self-isolation, we’re sharing some of our favorite delicious, easy-to-make recipes for the hungry at home.

In these trying times, I’ve established a cycle of drinks I go through each day — coffee in the early morning, some water to stay hydrated, chai in the early afternoon, some more water, a glass of wine or beer if I’m feeling extravagant and finally some more water.

This recipe is for chai, although I’ll consider making a cookbook for the other three drinks if enough people email me asking. I do not claim to be an expert on chai and am in fact probably the opposite, but I do like the spicy yet sweet caffeinated drink I pull off — even if it’s only one of many variations of the drink. 

I have this premade chai masala powder that’s composed of cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, ginger, clove, cardamom and black pepper. My friend got it for me for Christmas during his study abroad in India, but there’s no reason to purchase it already packaged like this if you already have all of these spices. It’s much better if you use the whole spices and grind or smash them yourself. If you do have the spices, just add whatever feels right and grind them into smaller bits.

Brian Gentry | Contributing Editor


  • ½ tsp. chai masala powder, either bought or made yourself
  • 1½ cup of water
  • 2 bags black tea
  • Milk
  • Sweetener (I use sugar)


  1. Boil the water and chai masala blend in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes so the flavors steep into the water.
  2. Add the tea bags and simmer for another 4 minutes.
  3. Add milk until it reaches your desired color and bring back up to a simmer, then sweeten to taste.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or coffee filter, or just very carefully pour, into a mug and enjoy.