In sweets or with meat, cardamom a must-have

Cardamom gets its due in this week’s food-section spread on Indian cooking. The pods filled with black seeds are an essential component of India’s iconic spice blend garam masala and innumerable other dishes from the subcontinent.

The pods’ popularity ranges far and wide, however. Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cuisines feature plenty of cardamom. Closer to home, pears often are spiced with cardamom. And if the Rogue Valley’s original “gift fruit,” didn’t furnish reason enough, holiday baking recipes, particularly those originating in Scandinavia, make cardamom the season’s must-have spice.

I’ve been experimenting for about a decade with cardamom in sweet and savory dishes alike. It adds that je ne sais quoi in everything from raspberry vinaigrette and rhubarb compote to Moroccan-spiced oatmeal with apricots and dates. I often compound an iteration of the North African spice blend Ras el Hanout when roasting lamb shanks or any other meat for tagine.

Applying a yogurt marinade to meat for oven roasting is another common technique in Indian cooking. But it easily transfers to the home kitchen, particularly with the addition of fresh herbs and lemon zest. Yogurt-baked chicken tickled the taste buds of participants in a cooking class that I presented last year for ACCESS. They said they couldn’t believe how easy it was to coat chicken in yogurt, which imparts big flavor and retains the meat’s moisture.

Try the method in this recipe, highlighting cardamom, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Tribune News Service photo

Yogurt Spiced Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up, or 3 to 4 pounds of chicken pieces

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse the chicken and pat dry.

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, allspice, nutmeg and cardamom. Add chicken pieces and mix until chicken is thoroughly coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Arrange grill for indirect heat or preheat oven to 400 F.

Knock or brush off as much yogurt marinade as you can. Liberally sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.

If using a grill, place chicken skin-side-down on grate away from coals or flames, and close lid. Cook white meat for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once. Cook dark meat for 45 to 55 minutes, turning once.

If using an oven, heat a grill pan or heavy, ovenproof skillet very hot on stovetop. Spray with nonstick spray (or add a little oil), then place chicken skin-side-down onto pan. Cook until seared and brown, but do not let it burn, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip chicken and place pan in oven. Cook white meat for 25 minutes or until done; cook dark meat for 45 minutes or until done.

Makes 4 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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