One of my favourite past times is cooking Indian. I’m not saying I’m good at cooking Indian, but it brings me comforting memories and I am hooked on the incredible number and variety of spices that go into making good Indian food. The smell of one in particular always makes me smile with pleasure and that is cardamom.
According to Agriinfo, Cardamom, known as ‘Queen of Spices’, is a dried fruit of a tall perennial herbaceous plant. It’s delicate aroma make it one of the most expensive spices in the world. Till the seventies India enjoyed a near monopoly position, but currently Guatemala, Columbia and even Sri Lanka are vying to compete in the production and export of this fragrant pod.
The comfort comes from my friend Nutan Brown, who when I was rotating in/out of our family home during my divorce, allowed me to stay just down the road in her beautiful home. Not only are her husband Jack and her kids superheroes for sharing their t.v. room, as my bedroom, Bombay-born Nutan fed me Butter Chicken, Cholay and other Indian delicacies made from the recipes of her mother. It helped me heal and the memory followed and inspired me.
It’s been a long road to find and learn how to grind my own spices, helped by Monisha Bharadwaj’s most awesome book, The Indian Kitchen. Not a cook book, but a cook’s book, on the key ingredients and recipes from Indian medicinal and culinary practices that result in healthy, yummy, beautiful food.
Indian food, unless you are using Patak’s or Kitchen’s of India, is very time consuming, but I love the way it makes me feel and you will too.
Cardamom really gets around and can be used as aroma therapy and in cooking pumpkin breads, Crème brûlée, fruit smoothies and even breakfast, like in this recipe for Icelandic pancakes. The blog Cardamom Nation shares recipes and their eight reasons for using cardamom [as if we needed more]. What’s your favourite use for cardamom?