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Masala Chai Ice Cream

Masala Chai Ice Cream Related:   Asia, dairy, desserts & sweets, gluten-free, July 4th, pareve, Passover, Shavuot, Tu b'Shevat, vegetarian

Prep time: 1½-2 hours + overnight refrigeration + overnight freezing

Cook time: 20-30 mins

Yield: 6-8 servings

The love for masala chai didn’t come to me as an adult, as happened with Brussels sprouts, but in recent years I have developed a hankering for masala chai ice cream. The Indian holiday meals we had when I was growing up inspired me to develop a masala chai ice cream as a Passover dessert. I used cloves and anise as well as ginger and cardamom for a more robust and complex spice flavor. You can customize the spices to your taste. For a pareve version, replace the milk and cream with 3 cups of coconut milk, almond milk or a combination of the two.


  • 1½ cups whole* milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tea bags, Darjeeling or other black tea
  • 1-1½ inch knob ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 10 cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods (open the pods and throw in both the seeds and outer green leaves)
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 5 egg yolks, whisked
  • 1½ cups heavy cream or whipping cream


  • In a medium saucepan, mix the milk and sugar well. Put on medium-low heat and add the 3 tea bags, ginger, cloves, cardamom and star anise. Let heat up for a few minutes until small bubbles appear around the edges. Remove from heat and let steep for 45 minutes.
  • Remove tea bags, squeeze any moisture out and discard. At this point, you can also strain the spices out of the milk if you prefer a subtler flavor.
  • Put the milk mixture back on medium-low heat. Heat until small bubbles reappear at the edges. Add ½ cup of the milk mixture into the whisked eggs while whisking constantly. This process is called tempering. Add the tempered egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk constantly. Whisk for approximately 10 minutes until a thin custard forms. Remove from heat and immediately transfer into a container. Let cool on the counter, cover with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
  • The next morning, add the whipping cream to a mixer bowl and whip with a whisk attachment on medium-high speed until it peaks. Strain the custard base through a sieve into the whipping cream. Press all the remaining custard with a rubber spatula through the sieve and discard the leftover spices. Mix well and pour the mixture into a chilled ice cream maker bowl and churn according to manufacturer's instructions, approximately 20 to 30 minutes. The ice cream should have a soft-serve consistency or a little creamier. Scoop into a container with a lid and freeze for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, before serving.
  • Notes:
  • *You can use 2% milk instead of whole milk, but not nonfat. You can also use 3 cups of milk instead of equal parts milk and cream. The result will be less creamy.
  • For a pareve version: replace the milk and cream with 3 cups of coconut milk, almond milk or a combination and follow the steps as instructed above. The consistency of the ice cream with coconut and almond milks won't be as creamy.
  • If you don’t own an ice cream maker: after the ice cream base has been chilled and strained, freeze it for 1 hour. After an hour, process it in a food processor. Freeze the ice cream for the second time for 1 hour and process in the food processor immediately thereafter. Freeze the ice cream for 1 hour for the third time and process in the food processor for the third time. Freeze for the final time for at least 4 hours before serving. Let thaw for 5 to 10 minutes on counter before serving if frozen overnight or longer. This process mimics the incorporation of air into the ice cream base and results in a creamy and delicious ice cream without the ice cream maker.

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