There’s an Indian restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona called Jewel of the Crown. I grew up a few miles away from it, but it was slightly too fancy to go there on a regular basis. Mostly, we would go when family was visiting from out of town – it was a special occasion. And for the kid version of me, it was a very special occasion. I took to it immediately, even when I was young: the chicken was perfectly cooked, the naan bread was devoured in minutes.
But my favorite thing came piping hot from a tap: chai lattes. Milky, subtle but present spices, and delicious black tea. It took everything in me not to finish it in one sip. I coveted these chai lattes and thought about them months after eating at the restaurant. I’d try chai lattes elsewhere, but they weren’t the same – they tasted pretty much like watery syrup with some milk mixed in.
I haven’t been to the restaurant in at least 10 years and here I am, still thinking about those perfect chais.
But here I am with a chai latte recipe that tastes just like those perfect ones. I am so glad I finally tried it. If you’ve only ever had chai lattes from The Great Big Coffee Chain That Shall Not Be Named, you really, really should try making these. And it’s not even too hard to make in the comfort of your own saucepan: if you can get your hands on green cardamom pods (I found them easily at Penzey’s) and some star anise (in most grocery stores), everything else comes together in minutes.