Over the weekend, we had lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant on the planet, A Taste of India in the University District of Seattle. During our meal, the party at the next table ordered a round of chai. I don’t do cow milk, so restaurant chai is typically out of the question for me. Instead, I live vicariously through the scent, that familiar sweet-spicy-warm aroma that spreads so easily through a public dining room.
I’ll admit, I did nearly fall out of my chair as I attempted to lean closer and sniff in more of that lovely forbidden stuff. Nearly, but I didn’t.
Instead, I came home pondering the world of chai, the world beyond my teacup, and thought about other things of a chai-nature. Well, tapioca pudding may not have been the first thing that came to your mind, but it was for me. So, I decided to dig up and dust off my old vanilla tapioca recipe and give it a little spin through India, via chai latte.
Chai Latte Tapioca Pudding
1/2 cup small pearl tapioca beads
1 cup water
2 cups non-dairy milk of your choice (I use vanilla almond milk– see Note)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Note: If you’re using a flavored/sweetened milk, no extra sugar is needed. If you’re using a plain milk or light coconut milk, add up to 2/3 cup sugar (to taste) at the same time you add the milk.
Step 1: Soak tapioca beads in water in a lidded container in the refrigerator.
Step 2: When it’s cooking time, bring your milk and spices (and sugar, if adding) to a boil in a medium saucpan. Drain off any excess water from the tapioca (a little left behind is okay) and add it to the boiling liquid. Stir thoroughly.
Step 3: Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until all of the tapioca beads are completely clear, with no white showing at all, and liquid is reduced to a thick gluey sauce (approximately 20-25 minutes).
Step 4: When the beads are clear and the desired consistency is reached, remove from heat. If you prefer your pudding warm, you’re done and ready to serve it up! If cold pudding is your preference (and it’s mine), move the pudding to the refrigerator for 4 hours. You can spoon into individual custard cups if you like, or just pour it into one big bowl.
The recipe yields about 4-6 servings, depending on your appetite.