Breakfast #23: Chai Spiced Oatmeal

So many thoughts are going through my head right now. Musings, decisions, problems, totally random bits of nonsense. How does a girl keep up with the world outside when the thoughts inside her head are already so copious and (often) disagreeing amongst themselves?!

I won’t bore you with all the tedium that goes on between my ears. I’m not a mean girl. But suffice to say that I’ve got to put a rein on those whirling thoughts and organize my head. Not such an easy task. Especially if every thought is fighting for your attention with a lot of whining and foot-stamping.

Times like these I have to put a mental “do not disturb” sign on my brain, carve a patch of time for me to think, and hunker down with my notepads and pastel-metallic ink pens. Yes, I am a big believer of lists being the solution to all life’s moments of disarray. And if those lists are on fabulous looking paper and color-coordinated ink so much the better (plus points for metallic ink).

It also helps to fortify yourself with a breakfast that is extremely comforting and calming.

I had been wanting to try this since I saw the Sunshine Oatmeal on Nupur’s One Hot Stove many (many!) eons ago. It was based on a recipe for Chai Oatmeal from the book Sunlight Cafe, the recipe of which Nupur generously shared with me. But like a lot of recipes I file away on my hard drive, it slowly got buried under a massive data pile-up. Thanks to a sudden bout of laptop spring cleaning, its sunny face resurfaced...right in time to see me through some much needed mental re-org. I adapted it somewhat, changing the volumes and adding and subtracting spices until I got a mix that was to my taste.

Chai Spiced Oatmeal
(adapted from
Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen...thanks Nupur!)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2-3 whole peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 whole coriander seeds
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1 tablespoon honey

- Make a little sachet for your spices. You can use a coffee filter or cheesecloth (I use empty tea sachets you can get at the Coffee Bean). Place the spices in your sachet and tie closed with some butcher’s string. If I were you I would make several already and store in an airtight container for future use.
- Place sachet in a saucepan. You can tie one end of the string to the handle so you can easily pull it out later. Pour in the milk and set over medium heat.
- Just before it comes to a boil, lower the heat and gently simmer until the milk is infused to your liking (about 5 to 10 minutes). Stir in honey to dissolve.
- Stir in oats and cover. Leave over low heat until cooked and thickened to your liking, peeping in to stir once or twice to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Serve hot. I sprinkled dried figs and toasted almond slivers on top but feel free to experiment with toppings! Serves one.

I love oatmeal (don’t laugh...there are many of us out there) and I love chai. It’s no surprise then that I was absolutely smitten with this. It has the down-home, comfort factor of oatmeal coupled with the almost hypnotic fragrance of chai spices. It may be my overactive imagination but this felt totally therapeutic to the aromatic spices where helping me center my thoughts while the familiar oatmeal was telling me that everything would be alright.

Does that sound slightly barmy? I don’t think so. Each of the spices here have a history of healing in some form or other, and have been used by early civilizations both medicinally and gastronomically. Aside from that, as I always like to imagine, once upon a time people set sail across vast oceans and into the unknown for these spices....the lure of their mystical fragrance pulling many an adventurer (and fortune-seeker!) to faraway lands.

Every time I have something redolent with these spices, I feel like I am a part, albeit a teeny-tiny one, of that fantastic adventure.

Never underestimate the power of a great breakfast (and a great imagination!). Therapy never tasted as good (or was this exciting!)...nor came as cheaply :)