Coconut Milk Chai Marsala

Call it a failure of resolve, or a pitfall of stay-at-home parenting, or injudicious selection of lunch foods, but I like a snack at about 3pm. I don't stock snack foods in the house. I'm off gluten and dairy, so a sandwich or cup of yogurt are out. I'm not a big fresh fruit eater (I can hear your gasps and rumbles from here) and if I'm the least bit peckish it's not a good idea to get into preparing something if that involves a knife. All of which is to say that pre-made chai syrup is a precursor to a great fill-you-up snack.

I buy coconut milk in 1L Tetra packs. (I'm saving them up to have a shopping bag made out of them.) I inherited a looseleaf chai marsala mix from friends who were moving. And I may have previously mentioned my utterly giant jar of raw honey. What more does one need?

The chai directions give proportions of spice to water, and directions to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Skip that; simmer it driectly in a whole container of full-fat coconut milk. Fat = flavour and satiety. On the evidence of my last batch I can recommend that you stick to the 'simmer' part of the original recipe though; yesterday I got distracted and the pot not only boiled, but boiled over. This gave a slightly burnt taste to the finished product, and casused it to separate in the fridge. The risk of heat is one reason I don't add the honey during the steeping, (because that would be a waste of raw honey,) and the other is the risk that it will concentrate the sweetness too much for my taste.

What you're aiming for is essentially a reduction sauce, so simmer your milk+spices as long as you can - I often start this during dinner clean-up and let it go until bedtime. Finally, strain it into a jar for storage. This is pesky, because the spices clog up the strainer, so go slowly and have your kitchen scraps bin nearby.

What you end up with is thick, unctuous, tan-coloured syrup so full of flavour that it's actually unappetizing. No, really, that's good! Personally, I don't taste coconuttiness at all, but the spices give the undiluted concentrate quite the tingle on the tongue.

When you are next looking for a little smackerel of something, put a spoonful of honey in a mug, fill it a third to halfway full with your chai concentrate, and top it off with hot water. Total time from scanning the fridge to caloric input is about 3 minutes. Honey will start to enter the bloodstream via the lining of the mouth, cinnamon will moderate its effect on your insulin response while soothing the senses, and the fats in the coconut milk will keep the dragon down for a good while. Delicious, satisfying, and good for you and the health of anyone who might make demands on your patience in the mid afternoon.


  1. First time commentor long time reader!
    That sounds delicious and I think I'll try it. Do you think we can get coconut milk in tetrapacks in Canada? ive only ever seen cans.

  2. Apparently So Good (the people who also make soy milk) does unsweetened coconut milk in 2L cartons. It sounds like it's still a healthfood store item, but if you have any trouble locating it you can always check with the manufacturer for distributors local to your area.

  3. This looks awesome! I've just discovered how delicious chai with coconut milk can be, but I needed a method that did not involve washing another saucepan everytime I wanted a cup.

    Found you via Cheeseslave and plan to use her mix as the tea.

  4. Raely, let us know how it goes! That recipe looks delicious, I agree!
    I wanted to link to it here, but I think it's so popular that her site has crashed!

  5. After re-reading this, I wanted to add two things:
    1. make sure your coconut milk contains only coconuts and water (and preferably a safe package lining). See the post What we are NOT Eating for the result of using one with stabilisors etc, and
    2. my last batch simmered and reduced for a good while. When cooled, it separated into a little watery stuff and 90% solid concentrate. It had the consistency of butter. In that case, I mixed one spoonful honey, one spoonful concentrate, and topped off with hot water.
    You've reminded me that I'm overdue for another batch :)