Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Breakfast #23: Chai Spiced Oatmeal

So many thoughts are going through my head right now. Musings, decisions, problems, totally random bits of nonsense. How does a girl keep up with the world outside when the thoughts inside her head are already so copious and (often) disagreeing amongst themselves?!

I won’t bore you with all the tedium that goes on between my ears. I’m not a mean girl. But suffice to say that I’ve got to put a rein on those whirling thoughts and organize my head. Not such an easy task. Especially if every thought is fighting for your attention with a lot of whining and foot-stamping.

Times like these I have to put a mental “do not disturb” sign on my brain, carve a patch of time for me to think, and hunker down with my notepads and pastel-metallic ink pens. Yes, I am a big believer of lists being the solution to all life’s moments of disarray. And if those lists are on fabulous looking paper and color-coordinated ink so much the better (plus points for metallic ink).

It also helps to fortify yourself with a breakfast that is extremely comforting and calming.

I had been wanting to try this since I saw the Sunshine Oatmeal on Nupur’s One Hot Stove many (many!) eons ago. It was based on a recipe for Chai Oatmeal from the book Sunlight Cafe, the recipe of which Nupur generously shared with me. But like a lot of recipes I file away on my hard drive, it slowly got buried under a massive data pile-up. Thanks to a sudden bout of laptop spring cleaning, its sunny face resurfaced...right in time to see me through some much needed mental re-org. I adapted it somewhat, changing the volumes and adding and subtracting spices until I got a mix that was to my taste.

Chai Spiced Oatmeal
(adapted from
Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen...thanks Nupur!)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2-3 whole peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 whole coriander seeds
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1 tablespoon honey

- Make a little sachet for your spices. You can use a coffee filter or cheesecloth (I use empty tea sachets you can get at the Coffee Bean). Place the spices in your sachet and tie closed with some butcher’s string. If I were you I would make several already and store in an airtight container for future use.
- Place sachet in a saucepan. You can tie one end of the string to the handle so you can easily pull it out later. Pour in the milk and set over medium heat.
- Just before it comes to a boil, lower the heat and gently simmer until the milk is infused to your liking (about 5 to 10 minutes). Stir in honey to dissolve.
- Stir in oats and cover. Leave over low heat until cooked and thickened to your liking, peeping in to stir once or twice to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Serve hot. I sprinkled dried figs and toasted almond slivers on top but feel free to experiment with toppings! Serves one.

I love oatmeal (don’t laugh...there are many of us out there) and I love chai. It’s no surprise then that I was absolutely smitten with this. It has the down-home, comfort factor of oatmeal coupled with the almost hypnotic fragrance of chai spices. It may be my overactive imagination but this felt totally therapeutic to me...like the aromatic spices where helping me center my thoughts while the familiar oatmeal was telling me that everything would be alright.

Does that sound slightly barmy? I don’t think so. Each of the spices here have a history of healing in some form or other, and have been used by early civilizations both medicinally and gastronomically. Aside from that, as I always like to imagine, once upon a time people set sail across vast oceans and into the unknown for these spices....the lure of their mystical fragrance pulling many an adventurer (and fortune-seeker!) to faraway lands.

Every time I have something redolent with these spices, I feel like I am a part, albeit a teeny-tiny one, of that fantastic adventure.

Never underestimate the power of a great breakfast (and a great imagination!). Therapy never tasted as good (or was this exciting!)...nor came as cheaply :)


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A fancy way of flavoring porridge! That sounds and looks totally yummy!

We all have such phases...



Lisa Michelle said...

Oh wow, who wouldn't want that on a cold morning, or any morning in general?

I must say, great blog, and your photos are spectacular!

katrina said...

Aromatherapy and food therapy in one bowl, how wonderful! I love both oatmeal and chai, too, and had never imagined them together. I'm sure it smelled and tasted so calming and comforting...sort of like getting your mind massaged. ;-)

I hope that you've found a way to deal with your dilemmas, and that you'll soon get through this rough patch. Knowing you, you'll come out the other side with your cheery smile firmly in place. Good luck, Joey! :-)

And, yes, lists and metallic ink (especially in purple) rock!!!

Rico said...

Only you can make oatmeal look delicious! The ones I have are on the blah side. hehe

Dhanggit said...

what an exotic sweet way to flavor your porridge!!! mouth watering as always :-)

btw, i was hoping to see your eclairs.. i guess you must be busy :-)

partimecook said...

I love your blog, I always read you, but I never dare to comment...

Now, I can't leave this entry without saying I love chai spices and I can't wait to try this recipe (and to smell it...)

Also, I am glad to see I am not the only one who uses the ikea bowls for kids! It's been funny to see them in here :) I use them a lot!!!!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Joey, I think that I need to start having decent breakfasts - I know that if I start my mornings with something delicious as this oatmeal dealing with my boss would be so much easier! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Rosa! It really adds some oomph to regular oatmeal :)

Hi Lisa Michelle! Thanks for your nice comment :) This would definitely be welcome on a cold morning...although I don’t get much of those here!

Hi Katrina! You know me...food (both making and eating) is my therapy :) Really, aside from smell and taste, it is really therapy for all the senses! Yes, this was a nice little “mind massage” :) Thanks for your words of encouragement...whatever the case, it’s always good to stop and re-evaluate once in a while! I do have (and love) a metallic purple pen! :)

Hi Rico! Thanks! But really...I can’t take the credit...oatmeal IS delicious! Believe and you’ll see the difference :)

Hi Dhanggit! I was hoping to see my ├ęclairs too! I am a lousy Daring Baker :( But I do want to get to it, even if it’s late...I love chocolate ├ęclairs and I have PH’s book!

Hello Partimecook! Thanks for dropping in with a lovely comment! And I’m so glad to hear you enjoy my blathering! :) I love these Ikea bowls! You are definitely not alone! I use them for everything...from prep to serving sauces to eating snacks and pudding!

Hi Patricia! Trust me...a bit of something yummy tucked in your tummy in the mornings will make work seem a lot rosier! Ok, if not rosier then at least not as gloomy ;)

Haley said...

I eat oatmeal all the time; I'm looking forward to trying this recipe out!

We'd like to invite you to participate in our September apple and peach recipe contest. All competitors will be eligible to win one of three prizes :)! Please email me, haleyglasco@gmail.com, if you're interested. Feel free to check out our blog for more details: http://blog.keyingredient.com/2008/08/29/september-kick-contest/

Thanks :),
KI Blogger

kidado said...

Oatmeal never looked so spectacular. Can't wait to cook this up on a chilly autumn morning!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

I so love this idea of chai spiced oatmeal. Haven't eaten oatmeal in a long time, but I used to love it in the mornings. Hm, maybe it's time to get back into that habit?

Kai said...

Hi, Joey, love chai tea latte, and would love it on my oatmeal, too. Any chance of procuring those spices you used here in Metro Manila? Would appreciate any leads.

Manggy said...

Yeah, definitely cheaper than a psychiatrist, but the saffron (and dried figs) still provides a sosyal touch, heh heh. We can always count on you to make oatmeal sound therapeutic/ romantic!

I didn't know that's what "chai" spices consisted of. I always just assumed it was some sort of tea!

Ruy said...

That's one deep bowl of oatmeal!
Your oatmeal post has me reflecting on the twisters raging in my own head.
I just wish I could come up with thoughts as organized as yours in the midst of braiin chaos.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Haley! I hope you enjoy it! I’ll check out the recipe contest...sounds like fun (ooh! Prizes!!) :)

Hi Kidado! You just have to teach it how to “work it” ;)

Hi JS! Yes! Get back in the habit! There is so much you can do with oatmeal :) This isn’t my first oatmeal post and it won’t be my last :)

Hi Kai! If you love chai latte you will like this :) These spices are available at most Indian groceries...I go to Assad’s on Jupiter St. in Makati. You can also get them at Spices and Flavors in Market! Market!

Hi Manggy! I missed my chance to meet you at T’s! Next time! Oatmeal can be romantic...you just have to see it in a different light :) Actually, chai is a generic word meaning tea (in India)...what we know as chai here is actually masala chai (spiced tea)...which has the spices in this recipe :)

Hi Ruy! Good luck on the sorting of your thoughts...make a list/lists! It always helps me to see things in front of me in black and white (well, in my case metallic purple, pink, and green...sometimes gold and silver) :)

Mae said...

Hi Joey, just passing by... to admire your lovely creation! ;)

PheMom said...

I'll bet that was the most spectacular oatmeal. Just the name gets my tastebuds humming!

Gattina said...

I LUUUVVVE oatmeal, so don't agree with those unfair perceptions towards this great grain :)
Now, with chai, you feel better?

oggi said...

I love chai and oatmeal. This is wonderful, yummy, and healthy! I'm having this tomorrow.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mae! Thanks! :) Nice to “see” you again :)

Hi Phemom! I thought so too when I first saw it...and it does taste wonderful!

Hi Gattina! Yes, chai always makes me feel better :) I’m with you on oatmeal’s defence!

Hi Oggi! Hope you enjoy it! :)

christine said...

Wow chai and oatmeal, what a perfect-sounding combination! I love both but have never had them together. Thanks too to Nupur for sharing the recipe, and to you for sharing your tweaks on it! :) Hmm I can almost smell it now!

Maita said...

cheech, i am a breakfast person only on sundays but am a firm believer in the powers of oatmeal! so looking forward to having this on a easy sunday morning!! i must use up all the cardamon that's sitting pretty in the kitchen cabinet...
thank you!!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nens! It’s really great...you can imagine how comforting this tastes! Remember our little chai-making session in my kitchen? We have to do something like that again soon!

Hi Maiters! Isn’t oatmeal the best? Yes, this is a great way to use up that cardamom :) And we can put together a cardamom stash for Iyor too :)

Jude said...

This would be a nice way to start this day. Too bad I can't make it.. yet.

ChichaJo said...

Hey Jude! Why not? It's really easy :)

Lori said...

Wow, I love chai for sure -- but in oatmeal??? Chai cupcakes is the farthest I'd go. I'm not as adventurous as you, Joey! :p

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lori! It's actually quite good! No tea in it..the milk is just spiced with the spices used in chai like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, etc :)