Masala chai brings the best warm spices – like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger – together in one fragrantly soothing cup. So why not carry that over to your bowl of oats? Infusing tea into oatmeal not only makes a breakfast that's equally as comforting as a steaming mug, but it also gives your bowl a little kick of caffeine.
The beauty of masala chai isn't simply its stimulating mix of spices, but also the bracing black tea that ties these spices together. That means for the best masala chai oatmeal, both the spices and the tea need to come into play. Steeping a couple of high-quality tea bags in the oatmeal cooking water before adding your oats allows the groats to absorb the flavor of the spices and the tannic black tea as they cook. It also means that they'll soak up some of that caffeine, which definitely doesn't hurt in the morning.
To finish, a splash of heavy cream mimics a good masala chai's milkiness, while a little honey lends a touch of sweetness, almonds add crunch, and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon invites you to dig right in.
Masala Chai-Spiced Oatmeal
For the oatmeal:
4 cups water
2 chai tea bags
1 cup steel-cut oats
Scant 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Coarsely chopped roasted almonds
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags, cover, and steep for 5 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and discard. Stir the oats and salt into the tea and return it to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the oats are very tender and the oatmeal is as creamy as you like it, 20 to 30 minutes.
Serve immediately in bowls topped with a splash of heavy cream, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of roasted almonds and ground cinnamon.
Overnight Version: Bring 2 cups waer to boil, add 2 chai tea bags, turn off the heat and steep for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bag, then stir in the oats and salt. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature. Reheat in the morning and serve with the toppings.
Notes: The stovetop oats, without toppings, can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to one week. The oats will thicken in the refrigerator; stir a little water into them when reheating to loosen, and garnish just before serving.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.