Monday, 10 January 2011

Cardamom Love

There's been quite a bit of enthusiasm for cardamom amongst Bread Clubbers after the success of the Christmas Julekage, so I thought I'd share one of my favourite savoury recipes using cardamom.

Cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum) originated in India, but has been used in Europe and the Middle East for centuries - for flavouring coffee in Egypt, in sweet baking in Scandinavia, Germany and Eastern Europe. In India it's used for sweet dishes, but also in curry mixes such as garam masala. I love to use it with rice, it gives a wonderful gentle spicy aroma that seems to sit well with many Indian or Middle Eastern recipes. The seed contains volatile oils, so it's particularly worthwhile buying pods of cardamom and grinding the seeds yourself. (To get the seeds out of the pods I just squash to pod under the bottom of their jar until the pod cracks, and it's then easy to get at the seeds).

Here's my recipe for Cardamom Rice


1 tablespoon each of oil and butter
1 smallish onion, chopped finely
3 cardamom pods
About a tablespoon of spice seeds, according to what the rice is to accompany, I often use cumin, fennel, fenugreek and mustard if I'm making curry.
500g brown rice
1 litre of water or chicken stock (or a mixture or the two)
1 teaspoon of salt.

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy saucepan. I find the best thing for the job is an earthenware pan with a lid, which can go on the hob, but something like a Le Creuset would work OK too.

Put in the chopped onion and sweat over a gentle heat until the onion is translucent.

While the onion is cooking, rinse the rice under running water.

Add the spices to the onions, stir for a few minutes, then add the rice and turn the heat up to medium. Keep stirring to coat the rice grains in the oil and butter.

Pour in the stock and/or water and bring to the boil. The boil it fairly hard for 10 minutes.

Put the lid on the pan and turn down the heat as low as it will go. Use a heat diffuser, if you have one. Now just let it cook very gently for about an hour and a half. Don't take the lid off or stir it (unless you think it's going to burn on the bottom, in which case, add a little more boiling water).

Turn off the heat and, without taking the lid off, let it sit for 20 minutes or so more. Finally, take off the lid and give the rice a fluff with a fork. The grains should be nice and soft and puffed up, and not a bit tough, as brown rice can sometimes be.

Great with chickpea curry, green veg and yoghurt.

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