Tuk Tuk Chai

Who doesn’t love chai!? I remember years ago when I first discovered the wonder of chai lattes in coffee shops – the combination of sweet, aromatic spices made it my favourite hot drink long before I discovered coffee! I know I’m not the only cinnamon lover around, and the combination of that with the other flavours and creamy milk with a hint of sugar is just perfect in my opinion! Clearly I’m not the only one as I’m pretty sure chai lattes are available in most coffee shop chains (as well as a ton of independent coffee shops) all year round!

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Tuk Tuk Chai is the first and only ready to drink iced milk tea available in the UK. Their tea was born out of a craving for the delicious aromatic drink that has been a staple on the streets of India for centuries, which looked destined to go unsatisfied once Indian-born Rupesh and his Parisian wife Alexandra made London their home city. Chai tea is so much of a ritual in India that an army of men and women called ‘Chaiwallahs’ exist, brewing and serving steaming mugs of sweet chai on street corners all day long! It was during their travels across Kerala that Rupesh first introduced Alex to chai, and on returning to London they couldn’t find a chai latte that could even come close to the rich, complex, spicy drink available so widely in India. And so, like true entrepreneurs, they set to brewing the perfect cup of chai themselves from their own kitchen right here in London. Now they believe they’ve found the most authentic creation this side of Delhi, and they’ve bottled it up into a convenient carton so everyone can enjoy it anytime, anywhere.

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When I first saw their tea, I immediately loved the packaging. I’ve never been lucky enough to travel to India but my husband has, and he always talks about the little Tuk Tuks that line the streets, weaving in and out of traffic – a true staple of Indian city living, just like the chai tea itself! Their chai range blends black tea, creamy milk and aromatic spices together, available in three flavours – Original, Aromatic Cardamom and Spicy Masala. All three flavours sounded amazing, but I was most intrigued by the Spicy Masala, which consists of a blend of eight spices! As soon as I opened the carton I was hit with the most intense combination of spices with just a hint of sweetness – everything you’d want and expect from a chai tea drink! Seriously.. even the small amount I left in the fridge as a glaze for my scones meant the whole fridge smelled divine for the rest of the day! The sweetness was perfect. I have a huge sweet tooth yet I really dislike products whose taste is overpowered by sugar, but there was the perfect balance of spice and sweetness, which combined with the creaminess of the whole milk made for a delicious drink – and that was before I warmed it up! Heated up it was literally like a hug in a mug.. sweet, perfectly spiced and warming from within.

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The only thing that could make it better was a sweet treat of course! And what better to go with a steaming hot mug of tea than a classic scone – with a twist! As tribute to the beautiful Indian spices I wanted to create an alternative to the much-loved British scone with clotted cream and jam, and so after much deliberation I settled on maple chai scones with chai-spiced date jam and whipped vanilla honey butter!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! 🙂

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Maple chai scones with chai-spiced date jam and whipped vanilla honey butter

Ingredients
For the scones:

  • 375g self-raising flour
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 60g cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 175 ml Spicy Masala Tuk Tuk chai (you can use any of their drinks but I love the blend of spices in this drink!)

For the jam:

  • 8 medjool dates
  • ½ orange (juice and zest)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or butter)
  • 75ml Spicy Masala Tuk Tuk chai

For the whipped butter:

  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla bean
  • Pinch of salt

Method
Start by preparing the dates for the date jam by soaking in hot water.

To make the scones, start by mixing the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and lightly rub it into the flour mixture using your fingertips until the consistency resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can also use a food processor to speed this process up if you’d like!). Stir in the sugar and cinnamon.

Beat the egg with the Tuk Tuk chai milk and reserve a small amount (you’ll only need about 1-2 tbsp) to glaze the scones later. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually add the egg/milk mix and the vanilla extract until the dough comes together in a ball. NOTE that you might not need it all – I didn’t quite use it all – the dough should be wet but not sticky!

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll it out to about 2cm thickness. I used a 58mm cutter which made 7 scones, but you can use any size you’d like!

Place the scones on a greased baking tray and brush with the reserved beaten egg/milk mix.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (I baked mine for 14!) until the scones are puffy and golden brown on top.

While the scones are cooking, make the date jam. Drain the dates and chop into very small pieces. Add the dates to a saucepan over medium heat, along with the remaining date jam ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes until it has thickened. Make sure you watch it, and stir constantly to stop it from catching or burning!

For the whipped honey butter, simply whisk all ingredients in a small bowl using a handheld mixer until light and fluffy!

Serve the scones warm, cut in half and spread thickly with the jam and whipped vanilla butter!

P.S. Confession – these were supposed to be pecan maple chai scones (I’d planned to add 1/4 cup of pecans to the recipe but I didn’t realise that the pack I was happily munching away on as a snack was my last one in the flat!! I feel like they’d add a lovely crunch so please do let me know if you give it a go and it works!

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I used the Spicy Masala flavour to bake with, and served it with the Original Chai tea, but you can use any – I just absolutely love the blend of spices and the aromatic smell of the Spicy Masala chai! The 250ml cartons are currently sold in 105 Sainsbury’s stores around the UK and can be drunk hot or cold.. though having tried both I have to admit that hot is definitely my preference – especially in this horribly cold weather!

Please comment below or tag me on Instagram @nickichanlam if you try either the drink or the recipe – I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

Link to their website.. including the cutest video featuring ‘Chaiwallahs’ – street performers and entertainers who brew and serve the sweet chai drink all day long! http://www.tuktukchai.co.uk/chaiwallahs

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