Saturday, March 20, 2004

A passion for cardamom

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Cardamom is a spice that people in the area of the world from the Middle East to South Asia use to flavor coffee and tea. It is also popular in Scandinavian baking.

Badger Lip & Body Balm, Chai Rose

This aromatic spice may be found in Badger Lip and Body Balm in Chai Rose, "an exotic mélange of Cardamom, Rose and Vanilla"

Speaking of chai, here is my recipe for Indian chai (adapted from the More-With-Less Cookbook):

Boil 1 Tablespoon loose black Tea in 1 cup (250 ml) to 1-1/2 cup (375 ml) water (depending on strength) in a saucepan for 5-10 min

Add 1 cup (250 ml) to 1-1/2 cup (375 ml) warm milk (you can preheat milk in the microwave). Toss in a cinnamon stick (break in half), a few whole cloves, and a few cracked cardamom pods. Heat to nearly boiling.

Pour everything - including the loose tea, cinammon stick, cloves, and cardamom pods - into a teapot. This will allow for extra time to steep the chai. You may warm the teapot beforehand by adding a small amount of boiling water to the pot and then draining the pot.

Pour and strain tea into tea cups. Add sugar or honey, if desired.

Serve with cookies or crystallized ginger.

Hint: you're paying for the packaging when you purchase tiny bottles of spices at the supermarket. Go instead to an Asian market where they sell spices in cellophane bags.

Hint: Do not use cardamon powder. As Andrew Dalby notes in his book Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices, the seeds soon lose their aroma when they are removed from the pod.