Updated August 2011.
If it weren't for Artist Open Studios, I might never have had the "Wow, cardamom!" experience.
At the studio of a local stone carver, people were trying their hand at carving under the watchful eye of an apprentice, exploring the barn that houses Karin's workshop, learning more about the incredible gravestones she carves and how she came to this work. And then Karin brought out a platter of chunks of bread, sweet and scented with cardamom. It was the first time I'd really tasted cardamom as the dominant flavoring in a dish. Wow, cardamom!
The fruit of a large bush that grows wild in the Cardamom Hills in southern India, cardamom is cultivated in Tanzania, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Guatemala. In Herbs & Spices, Jill Norman explains that cardamom came to Europe from India via the caravan routes, and the Vikings took it from Constantinople to Scandinavia, where it's still a popular flavoring for baked goods.
An essential ingredient in the spice blends of many cuisines (berbere, curry powder and garam masala, for example), cardamom enhances the flavor of apples, oranges, pears, legumes, sweet potatoes and root vegetables, coffee, roast duck or poached chicken — and spiced wine. In Arab cultures, cardamom coffee is a symbol of hospitality.
Cardamom also is reputed to be an effective antidote for scorpion venom. Just thought you'd want to know.
Grilled fruit with cardamom yogurt
This dessert comes together quickly and packs a huge, healthy flavor punch. If peaches and nectarines are out of season, use pears or plums. A grill pan makes it easier to handle the fruit slices. Serves 4.
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch vanilla powder or pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp agave nectar
1 cup plain yogurt, low-fat or nonfat
4 ripe peaches or nectarines, sliced (do not peel)
Juice of 1 lemon
Mix the cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla powder and agave into the yogurt and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Preheat grill. Toss the fruit with the lemon juice so they won't oxidize. Place on a hot grill for 2 minutes, then turn and grill for 2-3 minutes more, until fruit has nice grill marks. Serve warm, with a dollop of cardamom yogurt.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Creamy peach and yogurt smoothie, from Pinch My Salt
Grilled peaches with lemon yogurt and honey, from eCurry
Rosewater yogurt with white peaches and blueberries, from Sophistimom
Honey sweet frozen peach yogurt, from Kung Foodie
Roasted chicken with cardamom and yogurt, from TasteFood
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