Cardamom is one of my favorite spices, both to smell and to taste. The first time I knowingly tasted it was in a Celestial Seasonings tea called Bengal Spice. I found the combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom absolutely intoxicating. Like a cat with catnip, I would go into moments of empty-headed joy when drinking the tea, and was fully addicted to the body-warming suffusion of flavors that this simple drink could give.
Cardamom is used mostly in Middle Eastern and Central Asian cooking, with use also seen in Scandinavian countries. Green cardamom is more typically used in sweet dishes and in the Middle Eastern coffee drink, while black cardamom is more for savory dishes and is described as having a more blunt, strong flavor. It has a huge range of medicinal uses attributed to it, from being used to sweeten breath, help mouth ulcers and gum problems, aid tuberculosis sufferers, improve digestion, counter-act obesity, and act as an aphrodisiac. A fairly impressive list, I think, and makes me wonder why we haven't all been munching on cardamom to help heal all our ills.
I got in the mood for cardamom the other night when faced with a cold, rainy walk home and a return to a cold (though dry) house. I remembered the wonderful warmth of the tea, and felt I had to work its way into my dinner. Carrots were already on the menu out of necessity, and I thought that a mash with carrots, potatoes, and cardamom would deliver both the right, comforting, flavor and consistency.
We had the mash with middle-eastern spiced lamb chops: plenty of garlic, ras al hanout, and a bit of chilli powder, stirred together in a dish with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then put under the grill. It was all very right for a rain-soaked winter night.
For my weather-led use of cardamom, I'm submitting this to Simona from Bricole for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging.
Carrot and Cardamom Mash
- 4 large carrots
- 2 medium potatoes
- 3 pods cardamom (green cardamom is preferable)
- 1/2 C milk
- 10g butter (approximately - use as much butter as you normally do for your mash)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel the carrots and potatoes, and roughly cut into pieces.
- Boil the carrots and potatoes in water until they are both well softened.
- Meanwhile, crush the cardamom pod and combine it with the milk in a small saucepan. Gently boil the milk for about 15 minutes, to allow the flavors to infuse.
- Drain the carrots and potatoes, saving a ladel-full of the cooking liquid.
- Strain the cardamom seeds from the milk.
- Mash the carrots and potatoes together with the butter and the cardamom-flavored milk. If mash needs a bit more liquid, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.