Ingredient of the Week: Cardamom
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Ingredient of the Week: Cardamom

How to incorporate the Indian spice into sweet and savoury dishes

Each week plant-based cook Bettina Campolucci Bordi, founder of Bettina’s Kitchen, gives us the lowdown on a particular fruit, vegetable or ingredient, offering cooking tips and a recipe. This week it’s cardamom.

Ingredient of the Week: Cardamom

Cardamom, a fragrant spice originating from India, has made its way into pantries around the globe. It’s prized for its distinctive, slightly sweet flavour that can elevate a range of dishes, from savoury curries to sweet pastries and even drinks.

Varieties

The spice comes in two primary varieties: green and black. The green, or true cardamom, has a light, delicate taste and an enticing aroma. The black variety, on the other hand, has a bolder, more robust flavour profile. Both kinds are commonly used in a variety of cuisines, including Indian, Middle Eastern, and Scandinavian, showcasing the spice’s culinary versatility. What sets cardamom apart is its unique flavour profile. It is sweet yet somewhat spicy, with subtle floral notes and a hint of citrus. This complex mix of flavours allows it to blend beautifully with other spices in savoury dishes, like Indian curries or Middle Eastern rice dishes, adding a depth of flavour that’s hard to replicate.

Uses & Benefits

Cardamom isn’t just limited to savoury dishes, though. In desserts and pastries, it adds a sweet-spicy note that can transform a simple cake or biscuit into something extraordinary. Its distinct flavour also lends a unique touch to beverages, such as coffee and tea, making the experience of sipping them more enjoyable. 

Chicken curry and rice

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Beyond its culinary uses, cardamom also boasts several health benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants and has been linked to benefits such as improved digestive health, lowered blood pressure, and even better breath.

Here is my favorite recipe using cardamom: a must try in summer with ice cream, and in winter with custard. I have to say this is one of my most adored recipes, and probably one of the easiest to make, especially if you have a good blender, as the ingredients really need to be well incorporated into a nice smooth mixture. After this, you just pop in the oven so all the hard work is done for you.  Easy (and delicious) as pie!

Recipe: Sticky Date Pudding

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 250ml plant milk
  • 300g medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 1 hour
  • 80g coconut sugar 
  • 125ml coconut oil 
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 95g gluten-free flour
  • 1 vanilla pod (bean), seeds scraped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, whole or ground
  • ½ tsp cardamom, whole or ground
  • ½ tsp cloves, whole or ground
  • Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

To serve: vanilla ice-cream (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.  Line a 20cm round or square cake tin with greaseproof paper or use a good-quality silicone mould.
  2. If using whole spices, place them in a small blender and blitz until powderlike.
  3. Add this, plus the rest of the ingredients into your large blender, and blitz until everything is incorporated into a smooth mixture.
  4. Pour into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. Once the cake is done, transfer to a wire rack to cool and enjoy with a scoop (or 2) of ice cream!