Sexy Cardamom

BY VIVIENNE KHOO
Dec 18, 2008
*Special to asia!

Meet the spice that is queen of the kitchen and the bedroom.

Why is cardamom called the Queen of the Spices? Maybe it is its association with queens. The large-leaved plant with purple and white flowers had a place in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The terraced garden was built by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife who was homesick. Cleoptara burnt cardamom incense whenever Mark Antony visited. The Arabian Nights makes frequent reference to cardamom’s use as an aphrodisiac.

 

288 Anthony and Cleopatra

 

Modern research has shown that it contains two androgens, which stimulate desire in men. A pinch of powdered cardamom seeds boiled in milk and sweetened with honey every night should yield the desired result. As an added bonus, it helps to cut flatulence and bad breath as well as inflammation of the eyes, all the better to seduce.

In South India, the spice is used to treat infections of the gums and sore throats. While it is said to relieve simple things like hiccups, it is even used to treat tuberculosis, asthma and bronchitis. And if that isn’t impressive enough, it also cleanses the kidneys and bladder. It is said to rid the body of caffeine, a handy tip since it is often added to coffee.

Called the grains of paradise, cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight, after saffron and vanilla. It is best stored in pod form, once because once the seeds are exposed or ground, they quickly lose their flavour.

There are a few species of cardamom. Elettaria cardamomum

is used as a spice, as a masticatory like betel nut, and in medicine.

Another species called Amomum is used as spice and as an ingredient in traditional systems of medicine in China, India, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is prescribed to eat stomachaches, constipation, dysentery, and other digestive problems.

Irani rice dishes using cardamom were introduced to India by the Moghul emperors and Indian biriyani is made placing layers of cooked rice and aromatic meat or vegetable stew in large pots after adding dried fruits such as raisins, fresh and dried pomegranate seeds, almonds and saffron water.

289 Credit: etsy.com

Indigestion cure

For indigestion, mix 15 pulverized seeds in 1/2 cup hot water. Add 28g of fresh ginger and a cinnamon stick. Simmer 15 minutes over low heat. Add 1/2 cup milk and simmer 10 more minutes. Add 2 or 3 drops of vanilla. Sweeten with honey. Drink 1 to 2 cups daily.




CHICKEN BIRIYANI




287 Credit: quazen.com




INGREDIENTS


4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 small potatoes, peeled and halved
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 (2 inch) piece cinnamon stick
1.3 kg boneless, skinless chicken pieces cut into chunks
2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 pinch powdered saffron
5 pods cardamom
3 whole cloves
2 cm piece cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ground ginger
0.5 kg basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt


DIRECTIONS


1. Fry potatoes until brown, drain and set aside. Fry onion, garlic and ginger until onion is soft and golden. Add chili, pepper, turmeric, cumin, salt and tomatoes. Fry, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add yogurt, mint, cardamom and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are cooked to a pulp.


2. When the mixture is thick and smooth, add the chicken pieces and stir well to coat them with the spice mixture. Cover and cook over very low heat until the chicken is tender, approximately 35 to 45 minutes. There should only be a little very thick gravy left.


3. Wash rice well and drain in colander for at least 30 minutes.


4. Fry the onions until they are golden. Add saffron, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, ginger and rice. Stir continuously until the rice is coated with the spices.


5. In a medium-sized pot, heat the chicken stock and salt. When the mixture is hot pour it over the rice and stir well. Add the chicken mixture and the potatoes; gently mix them into the rice. Bring to boil. Cover the saucepan tightly, turn heat to very low and steam for 20 minutes. Do not lift lid or stir while cooking.

vivienne khooOnce a lifestyle editor at a website, a newspaper journalist and a food editor, Vivienne Khoo writes about luxury hotels, food and travel whenever she is not sub-editing. The perfume industry and essential oils are her pet topics at the moment.

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