Tea Sandwiches for Chai Time
I didn't used to drink chai very much. But when I'm home I notice I'll have almost a cup a day, just to join my mom or aunts.
Chai time is more than just a caffeine fix. In a lot of ways it's family time. It's the first thing you offer when someone comes over. It's an excuse to get out the sweets and the snacks.
In a lot of ways it's a reminder to slow down and take a break. When I think about how my mom comes home from work each day and has a small cup of chai before running around the house, I start to think of it as a ritual. A daily moment of self care.
It's funny how the farther away we get from family, the more and more we romanticize all the little things.
For all of the fancy recipes I like to try and make for my loved ones, one staple at the Mother's Day brunch is tea sandwiches. Super simple, but they are my pooa's (dad's sister) favorite, and I can't imagine putting together the brunch and not including them.
She loves cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and I don't blame her. They're light, refreshing, and a great quick snack that you can throw together any time really!
You can always mix and match what you put in the sandwich, but I think the staple to making great tea sandwiches is the bread. A small splurge on good bread can make your tea sandwiches feel more filling, and also keep them from getting soggy and gross quickly. I love going to the bakery section of my grocery store and picking up rye, pumpernickel, or sourdough. The bread is another ingredient you can have fun with in your sandwiches!
Of course, I can't stop there. I have a need to try and make things even more special.
One of my first little tweaks to make the tea sandwiches special was to start making ones using my dad's mint chutney. I'm sorry I can't share that recipe with you. It's a family secret and not mine to share, but I can assure you that the mint chutney and fresh mozzarella on a slices of sourdough were amazing! I'll whip up extras for my aunts to have for lunch the next day, or for a snack later.
Since then, I've had a lot of fun with tea sandwiches, and since it's a staple at the past Mother's Day brunches in our family, it felt only natural to share some of those with you!
1. Classic Cucumber &Chive Cream Cheese
I usually use rye for these chive cream cheese and English cucumber sandwiches. For no particular reason other than, the cream cheese and cucumbers are very light in color, so using a sourdough would make these tea sandwiches look very bland.
I also usually grab a whipped chive cream cheese to make spreading easier, but you can also grab a regular veggie cream cheese or a different flavor of your choice. Just be sure to take it out a little bit before assembling so that it's easier to spread! This is another time where opting for a firmer loaf of bread can make things easier.
2. Tomato & Mozzarella with a Twist!
Tomato and mozzarella are a classic combination. It's a great way to use all those tomatoes from your summer garden. Recently I've taken to using Brooklyn Delhi's Tomato Achaar as the perfect flavor packed spread to paid with fresh mozzarella for tea sandwiches. These were a hit with my massi (mom's sister).
This achaar is so good! I gushed about Brooklyn Delhi products in my last post, but this was actually the first that I tried and I loved it. It's so great to have on hand. I ended up grabbing some butternut squash soup from our grocery story that tasted incredibly bland. But with just a spoonful of this tomato achaar, the soup wasn't just salvaged, it was completely transformed! Trust me, you want this in your pantry.
3. Tomato, Mozzarella, & Cilantro Mayo
My dad took such care with his garden, that we were always blessed with an abundance of tomatoes every summer. Plenty to go around and share with family and neighbors. This tea sandwich in particular is one of my favorites. It uses fresh mozzarella and tomato slices. But, where you might normally find basil in a caprese sandwich, I've swapped it for a delicious, 2 ingredient cilantro mayo! I used vegan mayo, so this recipe is also eggless!
Growing up we always had cilantro paste on hand. I used Swad brand, but you could use any brand available. Mixing together the cilantro chutney and vegan mayo, I created a creamy cilantro spread that is perfect with the tomatoes and mozzarella. I could eat these all summer!
Each of the tea sandwiches, though great for a brunch or afternoon tea, is also just a great sandwich to have! They're easy to throw together for a quick lunch. They're filling and vegetarian. And best of all, they're full of great flavor without any of the sluggish feeling you might have after some meals.
This has been a really fun little series for me to do. It's been nostalgic and therapeutic in a time where I find myself far away from loved ones, celebration after celebration.
If you are able to spend this Mother's Day with your loved ones, and you choose to try one of the recipes I shared, please no that I am honored to be a part of your family time in some way. And I hope these recipes help bring smiles to your gatherings, as they have to ours.