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Exploring Spices – Cardamom

Spices for Palak Gosht/Veg Curry
spices
Image by Denni Schnapp
These are the spices and flavourings required for Palak Gosht (Lamb and Spinach not shown) and a mixed veg curry.

Coriander is not shown. I had to use it frozen.

Cardamom, the spice comes in two varieties: Elettaria (green cardamom) and Amomum (black cardamom). The Elettaria variety is known also as true cardamom. The Amomum variety is used most commonly in Asia. We will focus on green cardamom because that is what is used in our recipe below and most common in the Scandinavian cooking. Green cardamom is more readily available here in the USA, too.

Cardamom is from the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). Grown as a perennial bush, cardamom seed is known for its lemony and eucalyptine undertones. Cardamom is classified as pungent, warm and aromatic in the spice world. Cardamom is best purchased in pod form as the powdered form of the ground seeds loses its pungency quickly. The seeds are easily removed from the pods and the pod itself is not generally used as it can impart a bitter flavor to dishes.

Both forms of cardamom are used as flavorings in both food and drink. The Elettaria variety is used as a spice, and a calmative in medicine. Green cardamom is often used in Swedish cooking and Scandinavian baking. In India green cardamom is used in traditional sweets and in chai (spiced tea). Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices sold by weight, but its pungency allows very little to impart big flavor.

Cardamom is native to India and still grows wild in the south. The pods were traded extensively. Cardamom was known in ancient Greek and the word itself is Latin. The Vikings acquired cardamom in Constantinople over a thousand years ago and introduced it in their native Scandinavian countries on return voyages.

Interesting facts:

Green cardamom is used in South Asia medicinally to treat tooth and gum infections.
The word cardamom is derived from the Latin world cardamomum
Green cardamom is used to treat inflammation, kidney stones and gall stones.
Greeks and Romans used cardamom as a calmative to treat digestive disorders.
Green cardamom was reported in ancient times as an antidote for snake and scorpion venom

Recipe for Meatballs in Savory Gravy:

Meatball Ingredients:

2/3 C onion, chopped finely
2 Tbsp margarine/oleo
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 lb ground beef
1.5 C of fresh breadcrumbs
Enough milk to saturate breadcrumbs (maybe a third of a cup to start – more if needed)
1 egg
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp of cardamon
dash of garlic powder
tsp salt and pepper
Egg noodles

In a large skillet, saute the onion in margarine until clear – about 3-4 minutes. Put cooked onions in large bowl. Soak the breadcrumbs with milk and add to bowl with onions. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl with onion/breadcrumbs and mix by hand until very well combined. Form meatballs (if you oil your hands first the mix will not stick as much) and set aside on wax paper – they will be soft. Brown the meatballs gently in batches until all are cooked – about 6 minutes over medium heat until firm. Meanwhile put on pot of water and prepare to drop in the pasta as you start the sauce.

Sauce ingredients:

2.5 Tbsp marg/oleo
2.5 Tbsp flour
1.3 C beef broth
1/2 C reduced fat sour cream
salt and pepper

In the same skillet you browned the meatballs (drain the oil off but not the “bits”) then melt the margarine and sprinkle on the flour over medium heat – mix well and allow the fat and flour to cook for 4-5 minutes. It is okay if starts to brown a bit but do not allow it to burn. Add the beef broth and allow to simmer and thicken – turn the heat down to low and add sour cream, salt, pepper and return the meatballs to the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, adjust with additional broth or water. Stir gently and cover until heated through. Drain the pasta and place portion on each plate – smother with meatballs and sauce. Dress with chopped parsley or chives (optional) – Have additional sour cream table-side if your crew like it.

Takes about 45 minutes and will feed up to four.

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