is a spice that can be used in both sweet and savory
dishes. One use is in these chewy molasses cookies.
is the wildest, craziest, most mind-blowing fact about
cardamom: Not only is it a spice that is used in both savory
and sweet dishes, it is an important ingredient in the
cuisines of India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and
geography is not your strongest suit, what makes the fact so
bizarre is these areas are nowhere near one another.
more than 4,000 miles from India to Norway. It is more than
5,300 miles from Vietnam to Sweden. Jordan is more than
2,500 miles from India and is 2,200 miles from Sweden.
other words, cardamom has leapfrogged around the world,
dropping little bombs of intense and aromatic seasoning
wherever it goes. It is not used much in American kitchens,
but given the fact that it plays equally well with side
dishes, main courses and dessert, perhaps its time has come.
is a little bit sharp, a little bit sweet and a little bit
rock ‘n’ roll. A couple of seeds on your tongue can be
marvelously refreshing. It is sometimes used to flavor tea,
such as chai. And rice pudding simply wouldn’t be rice
pudding without it.
exploration of cardamom, I decided to make five dishes that
highlight the various aspects of the spice.
my favorite methods of cooking chicken is to marinate it in
yogurt with spices and then grill it — or saute it or bake
it. The yogurt makes the meat tender and juicy, and it also
tempers the spices. You can get a lot of flavor this way
without overpowering the meat.
decided to try it with cardamom, also adding allspice and
nutmeg. Vaguely similar in taste, but also decidedly
different with unique flavors of their own, the three spices
blended in a way that was, as I’d hoped, complementary.
the meat over indirect heat would be ideal, lending the meat
an additional smoky taste to play off the other flavors, but
I decided to do the next best thing. I seared it skin-side
down on a cast-iron grill pan, flipped it over, then put the
pan into a 400-degree oven. If you don’t have a grill pan,
you can do the same thing with any oven-safe skillet.
cooked it that way, too, which was equally delicious. But
you have to watch it while searing, because the yogurt has a
tendency to char.
cardamom goes so well with basmati rice, I decided to make
two dishes that use it — one of them as the feature, the
other as a backdrop.
Rice is perhaps the most amazing rice dish I have ever made.
You start off with basmati rice — already good — and
then you stuff it chock full with a host of other things
that make it even better.
talking here about pistachios and almonds. I’m talking
orange peel and julienned carrots, cooked together in a
light syrup to make them slightly sweet. I’m talking about
plumped-up raisins and dried cranberries. And I’m not just
talking about cardamom, I’m also talking saffron, onion,
cumin and turmeric.
it is a lot of work. Yes, it is totally worth it.
you can make the most complicated part a day or two in
advance. Then, when it is time to serve it (and it is so
beautiful you’ll want to serve it to company), all you
have essentially to do is to cook the rice.
other basmati-based dish is a slight variant on the Indian
classic Chana Masala. It is vegan — if you are interested
in such things — it is easy and it is simply wonderful.
For that matter, it is also wonderfully simple.
Masala is a dish of chickpeas simmered in chopped tomatoes
and a lot of spices. The version I made, which comes from
the food editor of Bon Appetit, uses only a handful of
spices. So technically it is less of a masala — a mixture
of spices — than it might usually be, but it is excellent
saute onion with cardamom, garlic, ginger and curry powder.
When the onion is soft, add chickpeas and tomatoes, and
simmer until you can’t stand to wait any longer. Then
serve over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.
cardamom is so good in baked goods, I also decided to double
up on desserts.
and pears go together like peanut butter and jelly, like
bagels and lox. But I did not want to go the traditional
route of poaching a pear in wine and cardamom, I was looking
for something a little out of the ordinary.
found was extraordinary indeed: Pear and Cardamom
Upside-Down Cake. The cake itself is spectacular; with a
small amount of cardamom in it, it is one of those batters
you won’t be able to stop eating even while it is raw. But
the piece de resistance is what goes on top, or rather, on
the bottom while you are cooking it.
you make a simple caramel of butter and brown sugar. This
you pour into a well-buttered cake pan (it is very important
to butter it well, to keep the caramel from sticking). They
you lay slices of pear, preferably Anjou, in an overlapping
pattern on top of it. What is left of the batter that you
haven’t eaten goes on top of that, and the whole thing is
cooked and then turned upside for your dining pleasure.
other dessert would be great for the holidays, but that does
not lessen how good it is right now, too. As the name
indicates, Chewy Molasses Cookies are chewy and rich with
the flavor of molasses.
what makes them really stand out are the spices: cinnamon,
ginger and, of course, cardamom. They really make the
are absolutely addictive. Cardamom will do that to you.
cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, see note
cup slivered almonds
uncooked basmati rice
cup granulated sugar
medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-sized pieces
cup dried cranberries
teaspoon saffron threads
tablespoons unsalted butter
tablespoons olive oil, divided
medium onion, finely chopped
teaspoon ground cardamom
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon ground turmeric
The fruit-and-nut mixture (through step No. 6) can be made
up to 2 days in advance; cover mixture and remaining saffron
mixture separately, and chill. I used roasted pistachios and
skipped the first part of Step No. 1, roasting the
oven to 350 degrees. Spread pistachios on a rimmed baking
sheet and toast until just beginning to brown, about 4
minutes. Transfer to a plate, let cool, then coarsely chop.
Spread almonds on the same baking sheet and toast until
golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes (watch carefully; they can
burn). Set nuts aside.
rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until
water runs clear. Cook rice in a large pot of boiling salted
water, stirring occasionally, until grains have lengthened
but are still firm, 6 to 7 minutes; drain and rinse under
cold water. Spread rice on another rimmed baking sheet; let
using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from orange and thinly
slice the zest lengthwise (reserve flesh for another use).
Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan,
stirring to dissolve sugar. Add orange zest and carrots,
reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots
are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside (discard
cranberries and raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot
water (not boiling); let soak 10 minutes. Drain and set
aside. Place saffron in another small bowl and add 1/4 cup
hot water; set aside.
butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium
heat. Add onion, season with salt and cook, stirring often,
until soft and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add
cardamom, cumin, turmeric and 1 tablespoon saffron mixture.
Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
heat to low, add cranberries and raisins, and cook, stirring
often, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved nuts and orange
zest and carrot mixture; season with salt. Set fruit and nut
remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large, wide, heavy pot over
medium heat. Add half of rice, spreading evenly; top with
fruit and nut mixture, then remaining rice, spreading
evenly. Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke 5 to 6 holes
in rice all the way through to bottom of pot (to help
release steam and help rice cook evenly).
remaining saffron mixture over rice. Place a clean kitchen
towel over pot, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and secure
loose edges of towel on top of lid, using a rubber band or
until pot begins to steam, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to
very low and cook, without stirring, until rice is tender
and bottom layer of rice is browned and crisp, 30 to 40
rice into a wide serving bowl, breaking bottom crust into
serving: 500 calories; 18 g fat; 4.5 g saturated fat; 10 mg
cholesterol; 8 g protein; 83 g carbohydrate; 30 g sugar; 6 g
fiber; 20 mg sodium; 40 mg calcium.
from Bon Appetit
clove garlic, sliced
tablespoons chopped ginger
tablespoons vegetable oil
teaspoon curry powder
(28-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes
(15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
rice, for serving
fresh cilantro, for serving
onion, garlic and ginger in oil with cardamom and curry
powder until onion is soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes
with their juices and chickpeas and simmer until soft, 25 to
30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with
rice and cilantro.
serving: 265 calories; 10g fat; 1.5g saturated fat; no
cholesterol; 10g protein; 36g carbohydrate; 6g sugar; 4g
fiber; 525mg sodium; 90mg calcium.
from Bon Appetít
whole chicken, cut up, or 3 to 4 pounds of chicken pieces
teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
chicken and pat dry.
large bowl, combine yogurt, allspice, nutmeg and cardamom.
Add chicken pieces and mix until chicken is thoroughly
coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
grill for indirect heat or preheat oven to 400 degrees.
or brush off as much yogurt marinade as you can. Liberally
sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
using grill, place chicken skin-side-down on the grate away
from the coals or flames, and close the lid. Cook white meat
25 to 30 minutes, turning once. Cook dark meat 45 to 55
minutes, turning once.
using oven, heat a grill pan or heavy, oven-proof skillet
very hot on the stove. Spray with nonstick spray (or add a
little oil), then place chicken skin-side-down on the pan.
Cook until seared and brown, but do not let it burn, about 2
to 3 minutes. Flip chicken and place pan in oven. Cook white
meat 25 minutes or until done; cook dark meat 45 minutes or
serving: 390 calories; 22 g fat; 6 g saturated fat; 145 mg
cholesterol; 45 g protein; no carbohydrate; no sugar; no
fiber; 135 mg sodium; 30 mg calcium.
by Daniel Neman
AND CARDAMOM UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
cups all-purpose flour
teaspoons baking powder
teaspoon cardamom, see note
cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, divided
cup packed golden brown sugar
firm, ripe pears, preferably Anjou
tablespoon lemon juice
cup granulated sugar
eggs, room temperature
teaspoon vanilla extract
cup milk, room temperature
For better flavor, use freshly ground cardamom (from about 6
to 8 pods).
oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-inch round cake
the flour, salt and baking powder together. Stir in the
cardamom and set aside.
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) in a small saucepan over medium
heat. Add the brown sugar and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until
the sugar has melted and combined with the butter. Pour the
mixture into the prepared cake pan, spreading it to reach
Peel the pears, cut in half and remove the core and stem.
Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the pear slices in a
slightly overlapping circle around the cake pan, starting at
the outer rim. Finish with several slices in the center.
Sprinkle the pears with the lemon juice. Cover with plastic
wrap and set aside.
Beat the remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in the bowl of
an electric mixer until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and
beat until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after
each addition. Beat in the vanilla, scraping down the sides
of the bowl when needed. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, 1/2
of the milk, another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the milk,
and the rest of the flour mixture, beating after each
addition just until combined.
Gently spoon the cake batter on top of the pears, smoothing
out to the edge of the pan and making sure the cake batter
fills in around the pears.
Bake until the top is a deep golden brown and a skewer
inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Place the cake on a rack to cool for 5 minutes in the pan.
a small spatula or knife around the edge of the pan and
invert onto a cake plate, leaving the pan on the cake for 10
minutes. Carefully remove the pan. Serve warm or at room
serving: 445 calories; 19 g fat; 12 g saturated fat; 95 mg
cholesterol; 5 g protein; 65 g carbohydrate; 44 g sugar; 2 g
fiber; 245 mg sodium; 80 mg calcium.
from the Los Angeles Times.
2 1/2 dozen
teaspoons baking soda
teaspoons ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground ginger
teaspoon ground cardamom
teaspoon kosher salt
cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
cup granulated sugar
cup light or dark molasses
cup packed dark brown sugar
sanding or raw sugar, for rolling
racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 375
degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger,
cardamom and salt in a small bowl. Whisk egg, butter,
granulated sugar, molasses and brown sugar in another bowl.
Mix dry ingredients with wet, just to combine.
sanding or raw sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by
the tablespoon and roll into balls (if dough is sticky,
chill 20 minutes). Roll in sugar and place on 2
parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart.
cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until
cookies are puffed, cracked and just set around edges (overbaked
cookies won’t be chewy), 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a
wire rack and let cool.
serving: 85 calories; 3.5 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 15 mg
cholesterol; 1 g protein; 13 g carbohydrate; 7 g sugar; no
fiber; 120 mg sodium; 15 mg calcium.
from Bon Appetit