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CHAI MASALA & MASALA CHAI

I love chai masala. Translated as “a mix of spices for tea,” chai masala is spicy, sweet, pungent, comforting, immune boosting, and its culinary uses are endless.  Traditionally, this spicy mix is simmered with black tea, milk, and sugar to make masala chai (spiced tea), a staple in most East Indian households, and a favorite on pretty much every Indian restaurant menu out there. It’s definitely a staple in my kitchen pantry, and I use it often. Until last week I had been not-so-slowly chipping away at a small jar of chai masala that my sister brought for us from Tanzania a couple of summers ago (a little bit goes a long way).

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BACON, SQUASH & SWEET POTATO HASH (paleo)

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I usually wake up ravenous, and this past Saturday morning was no exception.  I could have reached for gluten free toast slathered in almond butter, but I decided to scrounge through the fridge to see what kind of hearty paleo breakfast I could come up with.  I had a container of leftover oven roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes that I had used the day before to make a delicious soup, so I grabbed that plus some bacon, red onion, celery, and fresh thyme I had purchased from my local farmers market.  When I start my day off with protein and vegetables, I find that it’s much easier to stay on track for the rest of the day.  Right now staying on track for me means eating mostly paleo.  No grains, legumes, dairy, or refined sugar.  This savory hash is what I came up with.  Feel free to substitute whatever roasted veggies and fresh herbs you have on hand.  If you want to make this dish, but don’t have any roasted vegetables in your fridge and don’t want to hassle with roasting them, an easy shortcut is to simply steam the squash and sweet potatoes until fork tender, then toss them in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper before adding them to the skillet.  And if you don’t have any bacon at home, your favorite sausage either crumbled or roughly chopped will do the trick.  Omit the meat if you are vegetarian, or try this with veggie sausage.  You can’t really mess up a hash, so enjoy getting creative with your ingredients.

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