In case you’re wondering about the name of this cakey, chewy-edged cookie, which nearly explodes through its sugary crust, it’s a nod to a coffee bar creation in which a shot of espresso tops off a cup of masala chai, the Indian spiced tea. It’s right at home on a traditional holiday cookie plate, thanks to its festive cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. Feel free to add a little freshly grated nutmeg, if you’re so inclined. A strong coffee flavor adds nuance; black pepper lends a spicy kick; and malted milk powder, browned butter and brown sugar all contribute toasty warm notes to this craveable treat.
- YIELD 2 dozen cookies
- TIME 45 minutes, plus chilling
- 1 tablespoon finely ground espresso (not instant espresso) or finely ground coffee
- ½ cup/115 grams cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons malted milk powder, such as Carnation brand
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup/165 grams light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
- ¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar, for rolling
- ½ cup/50 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for rolling
- Put espresso or coffee in a small metal bowl. Put butter in a small saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, swirling and stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until nutty brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the butter to the bowl with the espresso and stir to combine. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the cookie.
- Combine the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly and set aside.
- Combine eggs and light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well combined and slightly paler, about 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed.
- Add the vanilla and the butter mixture, then mix on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture, then mix again on low until combined. Transfer dough to a resealable glass or plastic container, and chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar into two separate bowls. Use a small cookie scoop to portion dough into heaping tablespoons (about 25 grams each). Roll into smooth balls and drop a few at a time into the bowl of granulated sugar, rolling to coat. Transfer to the bowl with the confectioners’ sugar. Roll gently, coating well, then transfer to a parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Place in freezer until firm, about 10 minutes.
- Bake until cookies are golden underneath but still quite tender (they will firm up as they cool), 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheets and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.
Indians love tea, they are crazy about it – and they even have a special word for it – chai.
India is one of the largest tea growers in the world. Tea is grown in the north and the south – in exotic places like Munnar in Kerala, Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri Mountains. The tea gardens are a sight to see. Beautiful terraces are carved into the earth and from far they look like manicured gardens. Tea from Darjeeling and Assam is world famous for its aroma and taste.
Tea was introduced in India by the British during early 1900’s, those were early days of the British Raj. Large swaths of land were converted for mass tea-production. Ironically, the British introduced tea in India to break the Chinese monopoly. Tea was originally consumed by the westernized Indians, but it became widely popular over time. Today, looking at the popularity of tea one cannot tell of its origins from China.
But the story of story of tea in India goes beyond the tea gardens in exotic mountains and valleys, covered with mist and lush greenery. Tea is woven intricately into the Indian social fabric.
Chai is the common equalizer in India – from the rich to the poor. No matter what their position in life, an Indian relishes a cup of tea. The rich ones have their tea served in fancy tea-pots, delicate porcelain cups on well laid out tables with cookies and pastries. The not-so-affluent have it in more humble settings. But the joy and satisfaction is the same.
No matter where you go in India, even the remote village, you are likely to find a tea-stall, with a Chai-walla brewing the concoction, squeezing every last flavor. There is always a crowd of eager and tired folks waiting patiently for their chai. Tea re-vitalizes your body. It is a great anti-oxidant.
India has one of the largest railway networks in the world. Every train station has tea-stalls. Hawkers carry tea-buckets doling out hot cups to weary travelers as the trains pull into the train stations. One of my enduring memories growing up in India is traveling on the train in the sleeper-coach and waking up to the lilting calls of the tea-hawkers.
There are many stories of how tea brings people together. When you visit friends – tea and snacks are probably the most common offering. A cup of tea bonds friendships and heals differences. A guest rejecting an offer of a cup of tea may even hurt their feelings. The ultimate bonding is sharing a cup of tea – between two people – albeit in different saucers. When you visit a commercial establishment, as a sign of respect for the customer, tea is offered. Read more in my cookbook for Tea.
Recently, I was invited to speak and present “The Place of Tea in Indian Culture and the Kerala Tea Gardens” at the Boston Athenaeum. Here is a short synopsis. I am delighted that my Cookbooks were displayed and showcased in the museum! Thanks Hannah Weisman! Hannah is the Director of Education at Boston Athenaeum.
The museum is a historical place and encourages historical books. The Boston Athenaeum is steeped in history. Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenæum is one of the oldest and most distinguished independent libraries and cultural institutions in the United States.
Tea / Chai Recipes:
There are many Irani Bakeries in Mumbai, India. You must have heard of the Kayani Bakery, but have you heard of the Yazdani Bakery?
Yazdani Bakery is an Irani cafe or Persian style bakery in Mumbai, India.
The bakery was opened in 1953 by Meherwan Zend, an Irani baker. All products in the bakery are handmade, and baked in diesel ovens. The bakery draws a lot of visitors, particularly international visitors especially Germans. The building, built in the early 20th century, was originally a Japanese bank, which was later sold off. On 11 December 2007, the bakery was felicitated by Maharashtra governor SM Krishna the Urban Heritage & Citizens Award.
Old-school bakery/cafe offering Persian breads, baked treats & chai in simple, colorful surrounds.
Address: 11, 11A, Cawasji Patel Rd, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
The Story Behind One Of Mumbai’s Oldest Standing Eatery That Belongs To A Yazidi Family: Yazdani Restaurant & Bakery.
Parvez Irani could be any old man sitting on the counter of a restaurant collecting cash. He’s so much trained in his trade that the best of corporate employees could be put to shame with his no-nonsense demeanour and a poker face determined to get work done well. He can be quite intimidating at first, but it’s his eyes that say a different story. Literally, a different story, because his eyes have a sharp hint of grey in them, a trait of the Yazidi community from the West Asia.
Someone once told me that Parsi and Irani bakeries are different, and asked Parvez the same to clear my doubt. Parvez immediately rubbished it and said, “The only difference between us is that the Parsis came 1200 years ago and we came about a hundred. But we’re the same people and every ritual and practice we follow is exactly the same,” he shares with us.
Travelling through the time
Entering Yazdani bakery is like stepping into a time warp. You’re immediately transported into what would look like the 1950s, exactly when the bakery was established. The narrow lane near the Horniman Circle, Fort was really busy on the Tuesday afternoon we visited.
The lane itself mirrors the good ol’ Bombay, but swanky Mercs and posh BMWs passing through the lane are major old-world-charm killers. The bakery, on the other hand, has a wall full of posters and advertisements from the yesteryears, with grandfather clocks hung on two walls. Even the menus displayed outside and inside are written with a chalk on a wooden blackboard.
Parvez tells us that when Babri Masjid was demolished, leading to riots in 1992 in Mumbai, Parvez recalls that Yazdani was the only open bakery in that area, providing food to those stranded and homeless.
“No police or politician made any attempt to come and shut us down. And this support from the people still stands with us,” he tells us proudly.
This is evident when we look around the place that is so sturdy and teeming with regulars and the frequent knells of ‘Bun-Maska-Chai” booming through the room.
Something old, Something new
The first Starbucks café in Mumbai had opened in Horniman circle’s fancy Elphinstone building in 2012, and lives up to the hype of its name – a comfortable, classy café with a perpetual coffee aroma for the company. It’s air conditioned, unlike Yazdani bakery which is barely fifty meters away from the international franchise outlet.
And yet, Yazdani has a large and loyal fan following. May be it’s the feeling of having time travelled into a classic Irani restaurant in Mumbai, or simply the dollops of maska in the bun-maska they offer, Yazdani is full of character – just like your favourite old book lying rugged on your shelf.
Parvez’s father had set up Yazdani Bakery & Restaurant in 1950, which Parvez joined in 1959. “People used to be so large hearted back then. My father used to give away food to the poor just like that,” Parvez gestures ‘giving away’ with his skinny, wrinkled hands. “Sometimes, people would not have enough money and even then my father would let it go. The Nehru government had hiked the rates of maida and there was not much of a scope for profit. But still, my father said that the difference of one naya paisa should go into the stomach of the customer and not our pockets. Since then it became a norm to give the leftovers to the poor. This, was until we could afford a new fridge,” Parvez laughs and points at one standing at the corner of the restaurant.
Parvez’s family has been into baking for a long time. He tells us that his ancestors were bakers in Iran and were bakers after they came to India. His grandfather had opened a bakery somewhere in Mumbai, where his grandmother used to make bread while his grandfather sold it. Yazdani was later set up in 1950 after his father decided to let go of a partnership business and set up his own.
British architecture under the blue sky
The structure of this bakery with its sky blue exterior and red painted roof stands alone among the elegantly carved British architecture on one side and neat commercial buildings on the other. And it’s surprisingly bigger on the inside – huge table to knead dough and large ovens to bake, and still, so much of room left that one could get their dance rehearsals done while the bread baked in the ovens. Yazdani bakery still uses an old style bread cutter, which is quite fascinating but efficient nonetheless. Stacks of hot dog buns are perhaps the only embellishment in the otherwise faded blue interiors and high vaulted ceiling above.
It looks like the Irani bakeries of Mumbai are living on borrowed time from three different generations. They serve the same dishes they did back then, and have people loving it, but are slowly being swamped by a different generation who loves polished wooden floors and a crowd that loves imitating an accent.
The speciality of the bakery – bread pudding usually gets only hours after it is made. So we sort of made ends meet with an egg puff, bun maska and chai. There’s a lot more they offer – the apple pie, carrot cake, fiery ginger biscuits and muffins – all of which almost get over by the end of the day. Parvez’s son Tirandaz may be slightly less perky than his father, but still, has an interesting perspective regarding the death of the Irani café culture in the city. “The new cafés that are taking over the city are very fancy and have more facilities, but I wish that old places like these are retained and managed well. Our coming generations are so much in awe of the westernised world that they will voluntarily not take over the family business or manage the bakery. I would still wish that this bakery went on forever,” he tells us.
Is the change good?
Places like the Yazdani bakery are rare. When nobody provided livelihoods to people, the bakeries and restaurants did. Less than a dozen people work in Yazdani, and have been for almost all their lives.
Irani bakeries and cafes may look ordinary from the outside and may seem mundane to those who are ignorant to the beauty of the antiquated, but always have something fun to tell. Right from the exteriors to the people who visit it, Yazdani takes you on a trip to a less polished, raw and ragged Mumbai – the one that told tales of its initiation, survival and how it still stands undeterred and moves on but still retains its glamour.
Spice ingredients for one pot of tea:
1/2 of a star anise star
10-12 whole cloves
7 whole allspice or 1/4 tsp ground allspice powder *See photo below
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon bark (or 2 short sticks)
7 whole white peppercorns
1 cardamon pod opened to the seeds
1 cup water
6 cups whole milk
2 heaping tablespoons of a high quality full-bodied broad-leaf black tea (Ceylon, or English Breakfast if a broad-leaf Ceylon is not available)
Sugar to taste
In a 2-qt saucepan, add spices to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil; remove from heat; let steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on how strong a spice flavor you want.
Add 4-6 cups of whole milk to the water and spices. If you don’t have whole milk, you can also use non-fat or low-fat milk, just add some cream to it, a few tablespoons. Bring the milk and spice mixture just to a boil and remove from heat.
Add the tea to the milk and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes to taste. (Option at this point – reheat to a simmer and remove from heat.) You can add sugar at this point, or serve without sugar and let people put the amount of sugar in they want. Traditionally, sugar is added before serving.
Strain into a pot. Serve.
Add sugar to taste.
Click here for recipe of Parsi Chai (with Fudina and Leeli Chai)
I am curious why some Parsis say “choi” instead of “chai” (tea) ?
Ginger raises new hope in fight against ovarian cancer
The Guardian, Tuesday 18 April 2006
Common ginger may be the next weapon in the battle against ovarian cancer, scientists have suggested. Laboratory studies have shown that powdered root ginger could be as effective as chemotherapy for treating ovarian cancer.
When research-grade ginger – which is free of additives – was applied to ovarian cancer cells in Petri dishes it proved to be as effective as platinum-based chemo therapies for stopping cell growth.
The US scientists behind the research are particularly excited because ginger seems to offer a two-pronged attack on cancer cells: it makes them commit suicide, known as apoptosis, and self-digest, known as autophagy. It offers the hope that when one form of attack starts to fail the other will kick in.
“Most ovarian cancer patients develop recurrent disease that eventually becomes resistant to standard chemotherapy – which is associated with resistance to apoptosis,” said Rebecca Liu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Michigan medical school, where the research was carried out. “If ginger can cause autophagic cell death in addition to apoptosis, it may circumvent resistance to conventional chemotherapy.” The scientists stressed these were preliminary findings.
Ginger is known to ease nausea, and it is being investigated for use to lessen the side-effects of chemotherapy and prevent bowel cancer. But the research into its use to treat ovarian cancer is at an early stage.
“This study doesn’t mean that people should dash down to the supermarket and stockpile ginger,” said Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK. “We still don’t know whether ginger, in any form, can prevent or treat cancers in animals or people. And there is always the possibility that eating lots of ginger or taking ginger supplements might interfere with chemotherapy or be harmful to health.
“Scientists have previously found that ginger extract can stop cancer cells growing in the lab, so it is possible that a chemical found in ginger could form the basis of a new drug. But much more work is needed before we can draw any firm conclusions.” Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common form of the disease among women in the UK, with around 7,000 cases diagnosed every year. US research earlier this year suggested that the spicy component of jalapeno peppers, capsaicin, shrinks prostate tumors in mice.
Recipe of Ginger Tea
There’s nothing nicer than sipping on a warm cup of herbal tea on a cold midwinter’s day. But besides being tasty and warming, tea provides a host of different health benefits – that is, unless your tea is soaked in pesticides.
The investigators found that over half of all teas tested had pesticide residues that were above the legally acceptable limit. Multiple chemicals were found in 8 out of 10 teas, with one brand of tea containing over 22 different types of pesticides (Uncle Lee’s Legends of China tea brand).
A large majority of these pesticides are currently being banned in several countries due to the health risks they pose to works that handle them, and the negative effects they have on the environment (as well as the health of those that consume the products).
Greenpeace also released a study exposing many popular tea brands that contain high levels of pesticide residues – some which even tested positive for DDT, an incredibly toxic pesticide that was banned years ago.
And yet another round of tests conducted by Glaucus Research found that 91% of Celestial Seasonings tea tested had pesticide residues exceeding the U.S. limits. For example, Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape Herbal contained 0.26 ppm of propachlor, which is a known carcinogen under California’s Propsition 65.
Tea Bag Companies That Contain High Levels of Pesticide
The tea companies that were found to contain the highest pesticide levels were as follows:
• Brooke Bond
– Red Label
– Red Label Natural Care
– Red Label Special
– 3 Roses Natural Care
– Taj Mahal
• Celestial Seasonings
– Authentic Green Tea
– Antioxidant Max Blackberry Pomegranate
– Antioxidant Max Blood Orange
– Antioxidant Max Dragon Fruit
– English Breakfast Black K-Cup
– Green Tea Honey Lemon Ginger
– Green Tea Peach Blossom
– Green Tea Raspberry Gardens
– Sleepytime Herbal Teas (Flagship)
– Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape Herbal
• Golden Tips
– Nilgiri Tea
– Pure Darjeeling Tea
– Assam Tea
– Chai Strong CTC Long Leaf
– Roasted Darjeeling – Orange Pekoe
– Thurbo Flavoury Darjeeling Tea
– Thurbo Flavoury Darjeeling Tea
• Kanan Devan
• Kho Cha
– Masala Chai
• King Cole
– Orange Pekoe
– Clear Green Tea
– Darjeeling Tea
– Pure Green Tea
– Yellow Label Black Tea
Lemon Grass” or “leeli-chai” and has healthy properties. You can find it in chinese markets in water containers. Here is an article on the benefits of Lemon Grass, you may find interesting.
This is Indian Lemon Grass called Leeli Chai in India:
Lemon grass is a perennial, aromatic tall grass with a light lemon scent used for culinary and medicinal purposes. For centuries, herbalists have used the herb as an effective digestive tonic and nervous system relaxant. Lemon grass oil is used to help clear blemishes and maintain balanced skin tone. Lemon grass is also used as an insect and mosquito repellent. Now, according to Israeli scientists, they can add cancer prevention to the list of attributes associated with lemon grass.
If you are a cancer patient in Israel, your doctor is telling you to drink fresh lemon grass tea on the days that you go in for radiation or chemotherapy treatments. Ben Gurion University of the Negev researchers made a discovery last year that the lemon aroma in herbs like lemon grass kills cancer cells in vitro, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. In a fascinating article published in the Health section of Israel21c, it states that the study found the citral in lemon grass causes cancer cells to commit suicide in a process called apoptosis, a mechanism called programmed cell death. A drink with as little a one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to signal the cancer cells to commit suicide.
It all began when researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev discovered last year that the lemon aroma in herbs like lemon grass kills cancer cells in vitro, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
The research team was led by Dr. Rivka Ofir and Prof. Yakov Weinstein, incumbent of the Albert Katz Chair in Cell-Differentiation and Malignant Diseases, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at BGU.
Citral is the key component that gives the lemony aroma and taste in several herbal plants such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), melissa (Melissa officinalis) and verbena (Verbena officinalis.)
The BGU investigators checked the influence of the citral on cancerous cells by adding them to both cancerous cells and normal cells that were grown in a petri dish. The quantity added in the concentrate was equivalent to the amount contained in a cup of regular tea using one gram of lemon herbs in hot water. While the citral killed the cancerous cells, the normal cells remained unharmed.
The findings were published in the scientific journal Planta Medica, which highlights research on alternative and herbal remedies. Shortly afterwards, the discovery was featured in the popular Israeli press.
Why does it work? Nobody knows for certain, but the BGU scientists have a theory.
“In each cell in our body, there is a genetic program which causes programmed cell death. When something goes wrong, the cells divide with no control and become cancer cells. In normal cells, when the cell discovers that the control system is not operating correctly – for example, when it recognizes that a cell contains faulty genetic material following cell division – it triggers cell death,” explains Weinstein. “This research may explain the medical benefit of these herbs.”
The success of their research led them to the conclusion that herbs containing citral may be consumed as a preventative measure against certain cancerous cells.
As they learned of the BGU findings in the press, many physicians in Israel began to believe that while the research certainly needed to be explored further, in the meantime it would be advisable for their patients, who were looking for any possible tool to fight their condition, to try to harness the cancer-destroying properties of citral.
That’s why Zabidov’s farm – the only major grower of fresh lemon grass in Israel – has become a pilgrimage destination for these patients. Luckily, they found themselves in sympathetic hands. Zabidov greets visitors with a large kettle of aromatic lemon grass tea, a plate of cookies, and a supportive attitude.
“My father died of cancer, and my wife’s sister died young because of cancer,” said Zabidov. “So I understand what they are dealing with. And I may not know anything about medicine, but I’m a good listener. And so they tell me about their expensive painful treatments and what they’ve been through. I would never tell them to stop being treated, but it’s great that they are exploring alternatives and drinking the lemon grass tea as well.”
Zabidov knew from a young age that agriculture was his calling. At age 14, he enrolled in the Kfar Hayarok Agricultural high school. After his army service, he joined an idealistic group which headed south, in the Arava desert region, to found a new moshav (agricultural settlement) called Tsofar.
“We were very successful; we raised fruits and vegetables, and,” he notes with a smile, “We raised some very nice children.”
Related Recipes and Articles:
Thai Lemon Grass found in Thai, Asian and Chinese stores in USA looks like this:
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Commemorated in a grand and elaborate fashion, preparations for Navroze begin well in advance. Houses are cleaned to remove all the cobwebs and painted new. They are then adorned with different auspicious symbols, namely, stars, butterflies, birds and fish. New attires are ordered and made especially for the festival. On the day of Navroze, people dress in their new and best clothes and put on gold and silver kustis and caps. The doors and windows are beautified with garlands of roses and jasmines. Color powders are used for creating beautiful and attractive patterns, known as rangoli, on the steps and thresholds. These intricate and creative patterns display the sanctity of the festivals. Moreover, fish and floral motifs are a favorite among rangolis and considered highly auspicious.
Guests are welcomed by sprinkling rose water and rice, followed by applying a tilak. Breakfast usually consists of Sev (a vermicelli preparation roasted in ghee and choc-a-bloc with dry fruits) which is served with yogurt and enjoyed by young and old alike. After breakfast, it is time to visit the Agiary or Fire Temple to offer prayers. Special thanksgiving prayers, known as Jashan, are held and sandalwood is offered to the Holy Fire. At the end of this religious ceremony, all Parsis take the privilege to exchange new greetings with one another by saying ‘Sal Mubarak’. Back home, special delicacies are made marking the lunch as an elaborate and delicious affair.
Various Parsi dishes, such as Sali boti (a mutton and potato preparation), chicken farchas, patrani machchi (fish steamed in a leaf), mutton pulao and dal, kid gosh and saas ni machchi (a thick white gravy with pomfret) jostle for space on the table. However, the most significant dish that forms an integral part of Jamshed Navroz celebrations is pulav (rice enriched with nuts and saffron, aka biryani). Besides, plain rice and moong dal are a must on this day. Desserts too are not behind in terms of variety, the most important being falooda. It is a sweet milk drink made from vermicelli and flavored with rose essence. Lagan-nu-custard, or caramel custard, is another favorite on this occasion. The entire day is spent by visiting friends and relative and exchanging good wishes and blessings.
Suggested Menu for the Navroz day:
A cup of tea shared with another person is known to create a new karma each time. So next time you have a cup of tea with someone, have good thoughts, and share good words.
Health value: Antioxidant
Removes Headaches, Muscle aches, soothes and relaxes.
2 cups water
4 tea bags, black tea
2 cups milk, or lowfat milk
4 slices fresh ginger root, about 1 inch thick
1-1/2 Tbsps. honey
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. sugar (optional)
Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add tea bags, reduce heat, and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove tea bags, add remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Strain and serve. Serves 4 cups.