A few weeks ago I found a jar of black cardamom pods at the back of my spice cabinet. I bought them at the Asia Market about seven years ago when I got Madhur Jeffrey’s cookbook on Indian Cuisine. Back then, my culinary ambitions quickly gave way to other interests, the cookbook landed on the back shelf and most of my prized spices wound up at the back of the cupboard, where they lay dormant until now. When I opened the lid and cautiously sniffed the black seeds, I was instantly intrigued. They had a chocolatey, clove-y scent, and their earthy warmth made me think of sweet things and baking.
I have been using this spice a lot since, pairing it with cranberries in my sourdough loaf, and with dark chocolate in a classic banana bread.
Black cardamom gave the sourdough a deep, smoky flavour which was further enhanced by the sharp sweetness of cranberries. We enjoyed it toasted with butter, with a drizzle of honey and tahini, and made pulled pork, cheddar and sweet relish sandwiches.
This flavour combination also went surprisingly well with blue cheese. While I was confident that the cranberries will contrast with the cheese beautifully, I was wary that the black cardamom might compete with the strong flavour of blue. But somehow, they worked really well together, each flavour rather distinct, but enhancing of the other, with the cranberry providing the sweet link.
But let me tell you about the banana bread. I used a classic recipe but with less sugar, replaced the butter with coconut oil, crushed some quality dark chocolate and walnuts into small chunks, grinded 3 cardamom pods, and mixed it all up. The result was a fancier version of the good old banana bread with a bittersweet, smoky flavour. I think this one is a keeper!
- 230g plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 120 g coconut oil
- 100 g brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 bananas, mashed
- 120 g walnuts, chopped
- 100 g dark chocolate, chopped
- 3 pods of black cardamom, grinded
- Preheat the oven to 120 C/Gas Mark 3.
- Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cardamom.
- Cream the sugar and coconut oil until soft and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, mashed bananas, chopped walnuts, and mix well.
- Add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Spoon the mixture into an oiled tin. Bake for 1 hour. Insert a skewer or ice cream stick in the middle, if it comes out clean, it is ready.
- Leave to cool in the tin, then turn onto a rack and let it cool completely before cutting.