If you want to freshen your breath or get rid of excess wind, use cardamom; if you want a love potion or cough medicine, dig out the cardamom!
Although the medical properties claimed for cardamom are many, its popularity is more likely due to its very aromatic and distinct flavour. It’s used widely, either whole or ground, in Indian cooking in everything from curries to desserts.
- If you use whole pods, it’s inadvisable to eat them as they’re very strong!
Garam Masala is a mix of spices that is used throughout India, each home having its own slight variation. Its name means hot spices not because it contains a lot of chillies but because the spices traditionally used were believed to be associated with ‘heating’ the body according to the ancient Ayurvedic system of medicine.
A good proportion of cardamom will be found in the best mixtures but in the shop-bought varieties the more expensive spices are replaced by cheaper ones. It is far better to make your own mix, which you can adjust to suit your taste, and which you can make in small quantities. It will only retain its freshness for a couple of months at the most, even in an airtight container.
Garam Masala is usually added towards the end of cooking so that it retains its fragrant aroma.
- 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds (discard the pods)
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
- 2″ piece of cinnamon
- A good grating nutmeg
Grind to a fine powder and store in an airtight container.
- Use a spice mill or a coffee grinder – but keep it for spices afterwards!
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Handful raisins
- Handful blanched almonds, chopped
Break open the cardamom pods and take out the seeds. Crush the seeds using a pestle and mortar if you have one. Or place in a plastic bag and bash them lightly with a rolling pin.
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the grated carrot. Cook gently, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the milk and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir it occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking. Stir in the sugar, cardamom seeds, raisins and half of the almonds. Garnish with the remaining almonds before serving.
- 1¼ teaspoons dried yeast
- 3 tablespoons water at hand- heat
- ¾ cup milk at hand-heat
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3½ cups strong white flour
- 8-10 cardamom seeds
Sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and set aside.
- If using fast-action yeast, you can incorporate it in the next step.
Beat together the milk, sugar, honey, butter, salt and egg. Add enough of the flour to make a thin batter.
Stir the cardamom into the remaining flour and gradually add to the batter, beating well, until you have a smooth dough. Knead on a floured board for about 10 minutes. Cover and leave in a warm place to double in size (up to 2 hours).
Pre-heat the oven to 170oC, gas mark 3.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead again. Divide into 3 equal pieces. Roll into threads, each about 10″ long. Plait them together and pinch the ends to hold in place. Put the loaf on a baking tray and leave, covered, to double in size. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden-brown. Serve sliced with fresh butter.
Simple Cardamom Tea
- 7 cups water
- 5 cardamom pods
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teabags
- milk to taste
Put the water and cardamom pods in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the teabags, sugar and enough milk to make it the colour of weak milky tea. Return to the boil, then strain into cups.
Cardamom & Ginger Tea
- 2½ cups water
- 8 cardamom pods
- 8 black peppercorns
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 1″ root ginger, peeled and sliced
Place the water, cardamoms, peppercorns, cinnamon and ginger in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain into cups and serve with honey and milk to taste.
- For cardamom coffee, to the coffee in your filter machine, add the ground seeds from 2 cardamom pods, and a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. When filtered, divide between 4 cups, top with whipped cream and some orange zest.