Chai spiced fruit compote. (Photo for The Washington Post by Goran Kosanovic)

Chai spiced fruit compote. (Photo for The Washington Post by Goran Kosanovic)

Dried fruits come to life when simmered with tea

Warm, fragrant and sweet, this medley of dried fruit simmered in vanilla and honey-infused chai tea is the kind of comfort food to go for when you want that cozy, feel-good essence in a healthful way.

With just a few ingredients, it manages to have layers of flavor, because the spices are already packed into the tea bags. (You could use regular or decaffeinated.) All it takes is half of a vanilla bean (or you could stir in half a teaspoon of vanilla extract at the end) and some honey to round out the flavor with a deep, homey sweetness.

To make it, you cook everything in a pot for 4 minutes, remove the tea bags, then continue to cook for a few minutes longer, until the fruit is plump and the liquid is thickened. As the mixture cools slightly, the juices come together in a flavorful syrup that infuses and blankets the fruit.

The recipe calls for figs, apricots and golden raisins; I especially enjoy the texture of the figs, with the gentle crunch of their seeds. But you could substitute any dried fruit that tips toward the sweet rather than tart side. Prunes would work well, as would chopped dried pears, for example.

You could serve this compote warm or at room temperature with pancakes or waffles, or on its own. But my preferred pairing is with a creamy Greek yogurt, for a dish that can be enjoyed nearly any time of day: for breakfast, as an afternoon snack or for dessert.

Chai-spiced fruit compote

Make ahead: The compote can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

1¼ cups water

3 tablespoons honey

2 chai tea bags (regular or decaffeinated; 5 grams total)

3 1⁄5 ounces dried apricots, each cut into quarters (½ cup)

3 ounces dried figs, halved if small, quartered if large (½ cup)

2 ½ ounces (½ cup) golden raisins

½ vanilla bean

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the honey, then immerse the tea bags in the water. Add the dried fruit. Split the half vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the inside and stir it into the pot, then add the vanilla bean itself to the pot.

Once the mixture returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 4 minutes.

Discard the tea bags; cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a loose syrup. Discard the vanilla bean.

Transfer the compote to a bowl and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Makes 4 servings (about 2 cups).

Nutrition per serving: 220 calories, 2 grams protein, 57 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 5 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 47 grams sugar.

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