Cardamom, this is your moment. One of the most flexible of all spices deserves some long overdue attention. Cardamom is a spice made from the seeds of several different plants that are native to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, and Nepal. These tiny black seeds are housed in a papery outer pod. If you’d like to go straight to the source, they can be purchased in the pod, from IndiaKeralaCardamom.com whose cardamom is featured in the photo above, or more conveniently, right next to the cinnamon at your local grocery store. Perhaps because more common daily dishes in the US don’t include this magical ingredient, when you do taste it, you’ll find it truly unique. Strong enough to stand on its own, but not overpowering, cardamom is just different, in a good way. While it’s from the ginger family, you may want to experiment with it as a fresh new alternative to cinnamon or vanilla, especially in hot drinks. But cardamom is so much more. It’s almost impossible to describe its flavor because it’s so complex. Globally, it is used in a wide variety of drinks and dishes, including coffee, tea, savory Indian dishes, and Scandinavian sweet baked goods. The latter is where we got hooked. Cardamom bread leads our list of top ten favorite uses of cardamom. Many thanks to the Vikings who brought this spice to Scandinavia.
Vetebrod : Swedish Cardamom Bread
– 2 1/2 cups milk
– 2 cakes compressed yeast OR 2 packets active dry yeast OR 4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
– 1 cup sugar
– 8 cups sifted flour
– 1 cup melted butter
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 20 cardamom pods (or 3 tsp ground cardamom, which is what I use)
– 1 egg, slightly beaten
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1/3 cup finely blanched almonds
- Scald milk and cool to luke warm. Crumble yeast in bowl: add 1/2 cup luke warm milk and stir until yeast is dissolved. Add remaining milk and 1/4 c sugar. Beat in 3 C flour and continue beating until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until double in bulk, 3/4 – 1 hour.
- Add reamining sugar, cooled melted butter and salt. Break open cardamom pods – remove tiny seeds and crush thoroughly. Add cardamom and 4 1/2 C flour to yeast mixture. Place remaining 1/2 C flour on board or pastry cloth for kneading.
- Turn out dough and knead until smooth and elastic. (I actually put all 5 cups of flour in step 2 and then let my Kitchen-Aid do the kneading with the dough hook attachment.) Place in greased bowl. Cover with cloth and let rise until double in bulk, 3/4 – 1 hour.
- Cut into even size pieces and roll into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with 1/4 c sugar (rock sugar is really yummy) and almonds. Let rise until double in bulk, 30-40 mins. Bake in moderately hot oven (400 degrees F) 12-15 minutes. (If you do the braid that I describe below, cook at 350 degrees for nearly 30 minutes, when the top is as dark as you want it, cover with foil until bread is done cooking.)
Cardamom Café au Lait
- Ground coffee, espresso style
- 2 tsp cardamom, ground
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup half and half orcream
- Sugar, to taste
- Mix ground coffee with cardamom then brew a concentrated, strong cup.
- Heat milk, coffee cream and sugar in a pot. Beat the mixture using a whisk until foamy. Stop when the mixture is about to boil.
- Pour the milk mixture into a large glass then add the coffee.
Oprah Gets Behind Cardamom Tea with a Cause
This herbal chai blend, created in partnership with Oprah Winfrey, is a caffeine-free infusion with subtle spice and layers of herbal flavors. For every 57g / 2oz of Tevana Oprah Chai tea purchased, we will donate 1.00 USD to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation will further support educational opportunities for young people, including Girls, Inc., National CARES Mentoring Movement, Pathways to College and U.S. Dream Academy.
Cardamom Coffee Ice Cream
- 2 cups cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
- 2 tablespoons medium ground coffee
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
In a heavy saucepan bring cream and milk to a simmer. While dairy is heating, toast cardamom pods in a dry skillet until aromatic, about 30 seconds, and press down on them to open with the flat side of a knife. When dairy comes to a simmer, remove from heat, stir in cardamom pods, cover, and steep for 30 minutes.
In a clean heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and coffee until well combined. Quickly strain dairy into egg yolks and whisk until fully combined.
Place pot over medium-low heat and cook, whisking frequently, until a custard forms on a spoon and a finger swiped across the back leaves a clean line, or until custard temperature reaches 170°F. Stir in salt to taste.
Strain custard through a fine mesh strainer and chill in either ice bath or refrigerator until it is very cold, about 40°F. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, then transfer to an airtight container and to harden in freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.
1 ¼ lbs (600 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ½ teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1 onion, grated on the largest grating holes on a box grater or shredded in a food processor
¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
4 whole green cardamom pods
1 large fully ripe tomato, cut into 4 pieces
¼ heaping teaspoon ground turmeric
¾ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Wash the chicken with cold water and cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm) pieces.
- Pour the oil into a large skillet and place over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the garlic, ginger and onion. Sauté until the onion is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes.
- Add the cumin seeds. Open the cardamoms and add the seeds and the pods. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the tomato and cover the skillet. Cook until the tomato becomes completely soft and mashed and is combined with the onion to form a coarse paste, stirring every minute or so and lightly mashing the tomato, about 5 minutes.
- Add the turmeric, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Cook uncovered for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. This is the masala (spice base).
- Add the chicken. Stir to combine and increase the heat to medium. Cook uncovered until there are no signs of pink when you insert a knife though the chicken, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the cardamom pods and discard. Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!
Cardamom Rice Pudding
- 3-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) kalijira rice (or basmati)
- 8 cups whole milk; more if needed
- 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 8 green cardamom pods
- Kosher salt
- 6 Tbs. packed grated dark Indian jaggery (a special cane sugar, available online); more to taste
- Toasted, flaked unsweetened coconut, for garnish (optional)
Put the rice in a bowl and fill with cold water. Swish the rice with your fingers to release excess starch, then pour off the water. Repeat 2 or 3 more times until the water is less cloudy. Drain and set aside.
Pour the milk into a heavy-duty 5- to 6-quart pot and bring to a boil over mediumhigh heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, tie the cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods in a piece of cheesecloth.
When the milk begins to boil, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and add the spice pouch. Cook, stirring frequently, until the milk has reduced to 5 cups, about 45 minutes.
Add the rice and a pinch of salt and continue to cook, stirring gently and frequently, until the rice is very soft (but not mushy) and the pudding has started to thicken, 25 to 40 minutes. Remove the spice pouch.
Add the jaggery and stir until dissolved. Season to taste with more jaggery and salt, if necessary. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes to thicken; it should be thick enough to pour slowly from a spoon. If a skin forms, stir it back into the pudding. Serve warm, garnished with the toasted coconut, if using.
Cardamom Crème Fraîche
Grind seeds from cardamom pods in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Mix ground cardamom with granulated sugar in a small bowl. Add crème fraîche and whisk until combined and slightly thickened.
Serve with strawberries and a small bowl of of demerara sugar.
Vanilla and cinnamon, you’ve had your turn, now it’s time for cardamom candles. Try these little numbers for a rich, unexpected home fragrance. Don’t have time to make your own cardamom coffee or cardamom coffee ice cream? This candle from Fable Soap Co. is a great way to make your kitchen smell as if you did.
Paddywax Apothecary has another take on the cardamom candle by pairing it with vetiver, an essential oil from an Indian grass, known for its calming fragrance.
For the quadruple cardamom experience, make your cardamom au lait, add a scoop of cardamom coffee ice cream, light your cardamom coffee candle, and shower with your cardamom coffee body scrub. That will wake you up in the morning!
Eat it, drink it, smell it, bathe with it! You’re in good company with cardamom.