If you're like many Americans, cardamom sounds like one of the flowers your grandmother grew as opposed to something you would willingly eat. And while I'm constantly amazed at just how world-blind my fellow college students are, I admit that I too have had limited experience with this particular spice. Oh sure, I picked up a bag of whole pods at World Market. I used them once in a cake. Yet somehow, I've let them sit in a lonely plastic bag, buried in the freezer for... let's be gentle and say two years. I try not to think about it too much because the idea that I have most of the spices I've ever dreamed of sitting idle in my kitchen, with no inclination to use them, makes me just a little sick. Now there are some that I'm saving. Those vanilla pods? So going in a panna cotta. One day. One day this year, actually, since it's on my list. Go me. And those saffron threads? Authentic saffron rice. And and and.
However, there are some days when all those ideas in your head seem to coalesce brilliantly into one cohesive idea that suddenly seems like an effort NOT to do. And today, that was cardamom coffee. I have a coffee press gleaned from my mother that I've never used. I have the best intentions really, but I make coffee so rarely now that I relegated my trusty drip pot to an under-counter cabinet with the full bar I hardly touch. The french press itself has sat patiently in a high cabinet behind the "good" creamers and soy sauce bowls. Do you see a pattern here? The last thing holding me back was coffee. All I had was the flavored kind, while good, wasn't something that would offer a clean background to added flavors. Oh! But what's that? Whole bean Starbucks coffee that my dad and step-mom gave me two Christmases ago? It was shoved under everything in the back of my freezer. I realize that I am somebody's walking nightmare. Usually my own.
Despite my best efforts to never make coffee again, a long-ago read blog kept tickling the back of my mind. I remember that cardamom coffee was a sign of welcome in some Arab countries, and doesn't that just sound delicious? It beats the hell out of the chocolate milk I've been dribbling all over my sweat pants. It's cold and raining and it's the weekend. There is no better time for a hot little cup of heaven. And this really is heaven. I haven't enjoyed a simple cup of coffee this much in a long time. Plus, I got to whip out all my neglected pieces and make them feel useful.
The recipe I used was from a blog called SpiceLines. The original blog that got me thinking about all this over a year ago was Cooking Debauchery and her, how'd you guess?, cardamom panna cotta. Oh, you definitely see a pattern now.
Since I used... mature ingredients, I changed the amounts a bit. For the original recipe, follow the link.
Makes 2 cups
6 cardamom pods, crushed or whirled in the coffee grinder
5-6 T coarsely ground coffee
2 cups water
Place dry ingredients in the bottom of a coffee press. Boil the water until nearly boiling, add to press. Place top on press, but don't plunge. Let sit for 1 minute, stir. Replace top, don't plunge for another 3-4 minutes. Plunge slowly with spout facing away from you. Serve immediately.
She says that the Arabs don't take sugar or cream with this, but it was much too strong for me that way. I tried with both sugar and honey. The honey and milk was my favorite combo. Something about the distinctive sharpness of the cardamom and the smooth sweetness of honey, and the bite of strong coffee balanced by whole milk. Just gets you going.
I'm sure you could try to substitute the whole pods with cardamom powder, but I would recommend you try it with a traditional drip-pot. I've added many spices through that method with success. The last cup from a drip would be much less silty than from a press.