Your Slow Cooker Is The Perfect Way To Serve Steamy Chai To A Crowd

Masala chai poured into glass mugs
Masala chai poured into glass mugs - Aleksandr Porvatkin/Shutterstock

There's nothing like inviting friends and family over to share some homemade snacks and drinks. The only downside is that it can be time- and effort-consuming to put together individual beverages for everybody. For instance, if you want to make chai tea lattes for your guests, it can be a challenge to prepare a big batch on the stove, then prepare each mug with milk and sugar.

Luckily, there is a convenient way to make a lot of masala chai at once, thanks to your slow cooker. To make this drink using this convenient appliance, you have to understand what goes into it. The word "chai" means "tea" in India, and masala chai is a sweetly-spiced Indian beverage of black tea, milk, and spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and clove. A perfect masala chai has a complex, spiced flavor, with a hint of strength from freshly-brewed black tea.

To make chai for a crowd, you'd have to brew a lot of tea (making sure it doesn't turn out weak, nor bitter), spice the whole thing, and prepare it in individual cups. However, the stable heat of a slow cooker can help you infuse spices in hot water slowly and evenly for up to 8 hours, before you add tea, milk, and sweetener to finish. Not only does a slow cooker perfectly infuse your tea with spices, in the most hands-off way possible, but it keeps the finished batch of chai warm and ready to serve for hours on end.

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How To Make Masala Chai In Your Slow Cooker

White slow cooker with glass lid
White slow cooker with glass lid - New Africa/Shutterstock

While crafting a masala chai that you love comes down to the ingredients you choose, the cooking process can be streamlined thanks to your handy slow cooker. A great chai requires a thorough infusion of spices in water or milk, which can be painstaking to achieve on the stovetop. Instead, start by combining water and spices in your slow cooker.

If you're using whole spices like cloves, star anise, and ginger, you may want to tie them in a cheesecloth sack before dropping them in your slow cooker, so there's no need to strain them out later. Powdered spices can be added directly to the water in the pot. If you're after a more robust taste, simmer your spices and water on the low or high setting for up to 8 hours, or for a more subtle flavor, reduce the cooking time by a few hours or so.

Before your guests arrive, take the lid off your slow cooker, add in the black tea bags, and allow the tea to steep for 5 to 15 minutes. While you can use any variety of black tea, Assam or Darjeeling varieties will yield the most traditional chai flavor. You can either add in the milk and sweetener ahead of time, or allow your guests to customize their drink by setting out pitchers of milk, cream, sugar, and more. Either way, some of the preparation hassle will be taken off your shoulders.

Ways To Serve Your Easy Masala Chai

mugs of chai next to milk, honey and spices
mugs of chai next to milk, honey and spices - Melaniemaya/Getty Images

When hosting a cozy get-together at your place, it's always a good move to serve hors d'oeuvres and snacks your guests will devour, but a drink station can make things even better. While it's great to simmer your chai spices in water and steep your tea ahead of time, try setting out a tray of different sweeteners and milk options, so guests can customize their own beverages. To accommodate dietary preferences, provide both dairy and plant-based milks. You can even place a ladle, spoons, and mugs near your slow cooker so guests can serve themselves from the start.

If you make sure that your guests like their drinks sweet and are fine with the type of milk you keep in your kitchen, you can slow-cook your chai, then add sugar and milk to finish. It's also nice to offer your guests a few fun toppings. Set out an aerosol can of whipped cream and small bowls of extras like cinnamon sugar and or crushed gingersnap cookies. The best part about serving chai out of your slow cooker is that you can set the machine to the "warm" function and your tea will stay nice and hot, regardless of when your guests arrive (and when they decide to go back to the kitchen for seconds).

Read the original article on Daily Meal.