I love spice-flavored anything. I’m never one to turn down anything with cinnamon, and love the smell of it wafting as I slow-cook apples for applesauce. Nutmeg makes me swoon, and I have a nutmeg cake in my second book that I adore! Cloves I could take or leave, and though a clove-flavor as a dominant one isn’t my flavor of choice, I do adore a pinch or two in gingerbread and pumpkin dishes.
But there is one that stands above the rest. And it’s name is cardamom.
I don’t know much about cardamom other than that I love it sweet or savory. Yes, curry is better with cardamom. Yes, muffins are better with cardamom. Yes, cakes, cookies, fruits, applesauce, drizzles: better with cardamom.
If you don’t like cardamom, I’m not sure what’s wrong with you.
I also know there are three types of cardamom: green, black, and Madagascar, thanks to a nice little spice shop in a neighbouring city. As well, I do realize that it is best to buy it in the pods, but sometimes, that doesn’t work with the whole cross-contamination business. I’d venture that might be the only downfall of this disease: when you want something, and it should be safe, but it’s not (or might not be). I mean, how much money would I save buying from the little Asian store downtown? Lots, I’m sure.
If you’ve never had it, cardamom is sort of sweet, sort of spicy, pretty strong, and smells really great. A little goes a long way, and that’s good, ’cause it’s darn expensive!
So here’s my tip for you: use it! Try it in place of (or in addition to) cinnamon in your favourite dishes. And make sure it is a part of your vital curries!
Here’s a quick tea that I love putting together, and like to give away as gifts around the holidays. The bonus is when I give it to other (without allergies), I can shop in bulk. Is it too early to be thinking about the holidays? The answer, of course, is no.
Slow-Simmered Chai Tea
Makes about 9 cups
If you don’t have access to the whole spices, substitute with ground versions. The taste is still prominent, but it’s a little difficult to strain.
25 whole cloves — about 2 teaspoons ground
12 cardamom pods — about 1/2 teaspoon ground
2 tablespoons fennel seed
2 cinnamon sticks — about 1 teaspoon ground
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
8 cups water
2 black tea bags
3 to 4 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar (I use Sucanat)
1 cup nondairy milk (I use unsweetened Almond Breeze, usually vanilla is nice in here)
In a large saucepan, combine all of the spices and the water.
Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Add tea bags and return to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and steep ingredients for 10 minutes.
Strain, remove from heat, and stir in sugar until dissolved. Stir in nondairy milk and serve.
To make this a gift, multiply all of the ingredients for however many servings you would like. Wrap the tea bags separately from the spices. Put instructions inside, and include a tea strainer.