This past December, my older brother asked me what I wanted for my birthday. When I replied, “Ooooh! Exotic spices that I can’t afford!” he stood in the spice aisle of one of those super fancy organic type stores and, over the phone, read off the entire alphabet of spices they had in stock. I got to say “I want that one! Oh, and that one! Ooh, that sounds tasty!” and he bought them. Heaven. Sometimes I love that kid. One of the spices I ended up with was cardamom. I swear to God I had a recipe that called for it bookmarked somewhere. But it has vanished into the great abyss that is my unorganized computer. That was a problem: I had a ton of cardamom and no cardamom recipes. When I searched for recipes to solve that conundrum, all I found were ones that called for cardamom pods. What does one cardamom pod equal to in ground cardamom?!
My Flavor Bible told me that cardamom was a very versatile spice, pairing well with cinnamon, coffee, grapefruit, legumes, salmon, stews, and root vegetables, to name a few. Is that all over the place or what? It is also used very frequently in Asian, Indian, Indonesian, North African, and Scandinavian cuisine. What a hardworking little spice. So now I knew what it paired with, but I was still afraid to blaze ahead and make my own recipe.
Speaking of hardworking spice, Wikipedia tells me “Green cardamom in South Asia is broadly used to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It also is used to break up kidney stones and gall stones, and was reportedly used as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.” Well geeze! Sounds like you can carry around a bit of cardamom and be safe from anything but the plague.
But instead of treating any illnesses or whipping up a fancy Indian dish, I made bread. Cardamom Tea Bread, to be exact. I have a bread machine, which, in my mind, is one of the greatest inventions of the modern world. So I dumped my ingredients in, and pressed start. See the effort I put into these things for you guys?
Normally bread made in the bread machine doesn’t look like this, but this was a “quick bread” which in reality is more like bread cake than it is like bread.
The final result! I got the recipe from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook and I’m not so sure what does and what doesn’t violate copyright laws, so I’m not going to post the recipe here.
This was a nice, thick, hearty and slighty sweet bread. The cardamom was not overpowering. In fact, it was a very subtle background flavor. My recipe said that the bread tasted good toasted with raspberry jelly. And you know what? It did.
It also turns out that cardamom is not as strong as I was expecting, so I’m going to be experimenting with it a bit. With such a low-key flavor, I think it would be really hard to mess up a dish by adding the wrong amount. You know, unlike salt or some other spices. Maybe I’ll create my own recipe!