Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Gorram Cha'i
by SuSu, MaceVindaloo

Inara Serra, the independent "companion" on-board the freighter Serenity was a Buddhist, as were Simon and River Tam. They were from the key core planets of Osiris and Sihnon, and both were upper class. Others on the boat were Christian and working class; but they all swore and spoke Mandarin and English, and when Inara made cha'i, the smell would permeate the ship. They all knew what it was, and would come running!

For the Tams, the smell was nostalgic and smelled of home — a place where they could no longer go. For the rest of the crew, the smell was exotic and expensive, a luxury their families could not have afforded often. Anti-elitists like Mal might have cursed Inara for perfuming his ship, if he hadn't been (not so secretly) in love with her, and would hover about, waiting for an invitation to join in a cup of cha'i. Of course, the whole crew would be there too with mugs in hand, hoping for the same.

Inara would always brew enough for everyone; in fact, she took to making a "base" and heating it up with hot milk to serve. She could always make another cup. She knew enough to make plenty, or there'd be cussin' for sure ... like that first time she made it, and Jayne didn't get any (he was late getting to the kitchen) and he hollered out, "Gorram it, gimme some gorram cha'i!" He chased everyone around to salvage his share, amidst hilarity and general good feelings. And so it became the name of this recipe.

    Cha'i Base
  • 30 to 40 allspice berries
  • 30 to 40 whole green cardamom pods
  • 12 to 15 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 to 6 inches of cinnamon sticks
  • 1-inch / 2 to 3 cm thick slice of fresh ginger, chopped and mashed roughly
  • 5 to 6 cups water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons black tea leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons clover honey
Using a mortar and pestle or a spice or coffee grinder (or if you must, a dry blender or food processor) and mash together allspice, cardamom, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Place them in a large saucepan with the fresh ginger and water and bring to a boil, then drop the heat down to a simmer. Heat for half an hour. Add the black tea leaves and cover the pot to steep for 3 to 5 minutes.

Strain the hot liquid through a fine-meshed sieve, or through a couple of layers of cheesecloth. While hot, add the honey, stirring till it dissolved completely. You can jar or bottle this base and store it in the refrigerator. Or go on with the recipe.

Heat up the base. Add the hot milk, whisking or stirring together. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

    To make one serving of the gorram cha'i
  • ½ cup cha'i base
  • ½ cup milk, hot
Stir together in a mug. You can also mix it together, then place the mug in a microwave to heat. Be careful when sipping — the mug will be hot!

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