Food

Pear and Chai Masala Jam

TIMEDecember 13, 2021

Growing up, I loved pears. They were one of my favorite fruits apart from the quintessential Indian mangoes. The pears in India are quite different from the ones you get here in California. I was amazed by how many different varieties of pears there are in California, like the d’Anjou pear (green and red varieties), Bosc, Comice, Bartlett, and Asian pears.

When I started my jam business, one of the flavors I sold was the Pear and Spice Jam. The pears need to be slightly, but not overly, soft and grainy. They need to be the right consistency when making the jam. I used star anise, cinnamon, and clove in the jam—​they work beautifully with the pear. It was my second most popular flavor—​people loved it. My favorite way to eat this jam is by putting spoonfuls of it on vanilla bean ice cream. Trust me, it is mindblowingly addictive! Try slathering it on vanilla muffins, too. I changed up the recipe to use chai masala to give the jam a lovely warmth.

Makes about three 8-​ounce (250 ml) jars

  • 2 pounds (910 grams) d’Anjou pears (slightly soft yet crunchy)
  • 1 pound (454 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces (42 grams) fruit pectin
  • 3 ounces (89 grams) lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons (4 grams) Chai Masala (recipe follows)

Peel the pears, cut in half, remove the cores (with the seeds), and chop the fruit into small cubes. Place in a large bowl. Add the sugar, fruit pectin, lemon juice, and Chai Masala. Stir, cover, and set it aside for an hour.

Keep a small plate with two metal spoons in the freezer. The plate should be level.

To Sterilize the Jars

Preheat the oven to 230 degrees F.

Wash the jars with warm water and shake off any excess water. Place them on a baking sheet.

Place the tray with the jars in the oven until ready to fill them, or for at least 20 minutes to ensure sterilization.

To Make the Jam

In a large copper saucepan or nonstick saucepan, on medium to high heat, add the bowl ingredients and stir to incorporate.

Keep a candy thermometer hooked safely to the pot so you can see the temperature.

Let the mixture come to a boil. It takes about 5 minutes. Let it boil until it starts foaming, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula, so as not to let the jam get stuck at the bottom of the pan. Let it bubble for another 10 minutes; the foam will gently subside. Remove any excess foam with a spoon and keep a cup handy to discard it into.

Reduce the temperature to medium as the jam continues bubbling. The bubbles will be smaller as the jam reduces. Keep stirring to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan at this stage, and also that the jam does not bubble vigorously. Let it boil for another 5 minutes. Total time is around 30 minutes. The temperature on the thermometer should reach 220 degrees F. The jam consistency will be thick.

To Do the Jam Test

Add a teaspoon or two of the jam on each spoon from the freezer, and let it sit in the freezer for 3 minutes. When you remove the plate with the spoons, the jam should slowly come down off the spoon but it should NOT be runny. That is when you know that the jam is set. If it is runny, boil the jam for another 2 to 3 minutes, and repeat the procedure until the jam is slightly dense.

Another test to determine if your jam is set: Let the jam sit in the pot after you turn off the heat. Use a rubber spatula after 3 to 4 minutes and run it over the top of the jam. If it sets on the spatula and you can run your finger through it, the jam is set. If the layer is still thin, let it boil for another 2 to 3 minutes and do the test again.

Remove the tray of jars from the oven, and carefully fill them with a funnel to avoid spillage. Make sure the funnel spout is large enough to fit the chunks of pear. Leave about a 3/4-​inch space from the top of the jar. Put the lids on securely and turn the jars over to mix.

Put the tray of jars back into the oven for 15 minutes to sterilize.

Remove the jars from the oven and invert them to mix again. Let them cool completely for about 2 hours.

Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year or gift them to your family and friends! Always store jam in the fridge after opening.

Chai Masala

Growing up in an Indian and Gujarati family, masala chai, or spiced tea, is ingrained in our routine. We drink it first thing in the morning, and the intoxicating smells of the spices wake us up and get us ready to start our day!

Masala chai is made of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper. I love adding fennel to the mix because it adds freshness to the ground masala and its licorice notes take it to the next level. All these spices are so good for us, especially from an Ayurvedic perspective, where each spice imparts some benefit to our body, such as stimulating our appetite, helping with acidity, providing antioxidant and antibacterial properties, and improving our digestion.

I have seen versions of masala chai where whole spices are put in the black tea. This is not necessary—​a little bit of the Chai Masala goes a long way. If you have the Chai Masala powder, only half a teaspoon is required per cup of chai, which is easier on the pocket and an efficient use of the spices.

The recipe is really easy. I love making the ground masala at home, because it comes together within minutes, stores well, makes an amazing masala chai, and is an impressive addition to desserts.

Makes about 1 cup (90 grams)

  • 6 cinnamon sticks (24 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (15 grams) black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon (7 grams) cloves
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) fennel seeds
  • 3 tablespoons (21 grams) cardamom pods
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (32 grams) ground ginger

Grind all the whole spices except the ground ginger in a high-​speed blender for 2 minutes. The mixture should form a fine powder.

Pour the ground mixture into a glass jar using a funnel (to prevent spills). Add the ground ginger, and mix it well with a spoon or simply close the jar and shake it to combine.

Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to 6 months.

Recipes reprinted with permission from “Mumbai Modern: Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by Indian Roots and California Cuisine” by Amisha Dodhia Gurbani. Published by Countryman Press.

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