Today's feature is Cardamom.
|Green Cardamom pods with seeds inside|
Cardamom is a beautiful spice with a remarkable flavour and even more remarkable smell. It is not a "hot" spice but a "cool" one. Cardamom is used in food (especially Indian) as a flavour for both sweet and savoury dishes, even to flavour drinks (like masala chai) and mouth fresheners. Flavour of cardamom is quite delicate but can't be missed due to its characteristic aroma. If there is one thing that flavours Indian food in the most versatile way, it is cardamom. I think Cardamom is to Indian desserts as Vanilla is to Western deserts. But the flavour is drastically different from vanilla. Cardamom has a cool flavour. It compliments the sweetness in desserts but in a way that invigorates the sweet rather than add more sweetness. It uplifts the sweet dish, which is why it is a winner for me. I am not much of a sweet tooth and cardamom actually increases the flavour and tones down the sharp sweetness.
|Instant Payasam Mix|
Can be bought from Indian grocers
|Payasam being cooked|
One example of a dessert that is flavoured with cardamom is Payasam which is a milk based dessert made with whole wheat/semolina vermicelli. It tastes absolutely delicious. Back at home, vermicelli is home made by hand conforming to a standard shape, length and thickness. Being as terribly lazy and unmotivated cook that I am, I stick to the instant mix. The mix has vermicelli, sugar, raisins, cashews and flavoring of cardamom and saffron. Boil milk, add the mix, heat till vermicelli cooks and you have creamy wonderful payasam ready! The whole kitchen smells of caramelised milk and cardamom. Heaven!
The Fragrance of Cardamom
The smell of cardamom in perfumes makes me smile. Unlike any other spice, cardamom is not spicy or pungent. The smell of cardamom is delicate, green and aromatic. It adds a fresh, energetic and very dynamic vibe to perfumes. Due to the fact that it is fresh, it is often used in masculine fragrances. It is used in different combinations, all to produce unique 'opulent but refreshing' effect. Cardamom and ginger is just so vivacious and exciting. Cardamom also compliments the coldness of incense, making the incense come alive.
To appreciate and familiarise with cardamom as a note, I think it is best to get a few pods and smell it. The pods have an outer (can I call it shell?) green/black covering has a fresher smell. The seeds are black which are responsible for most of the flavour and fragrance. The seeds are intensely aromatic when crushed. That is the real smell of cardamom. Cardamom essential oil and carbon dioxide extraction is a good way to smell and get used to how it would smell in fragrances. I have come across many fragrances with strong and appreciable cardamon note. Here are a few.
Amouage The Library Collection: Opus II
Amouage make great perfumes reflecting middle Eastern sophistication. While browsing through the Amouage section at David Jones, I smelt all 5 from The Library Collection and Opus II stood out to me and I loved it. As soon as I sniffed I knew there was something about it that I liked instantly. It was the cardamom note. Cardamom is showcased along with incense making the perfume cool fresh yet rich. If I could, I would get a bottle. It is also currently on sale for half price ($213) at David Jones.
Comme des Gracons: White
This is a medley of beautiful spices, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. I also think cardamom adds a cool vibe to the rich spices. I don't know why, my skin amps the cardamom in it like crazy! Beautiful 'feminine' cardamom.
Cardamom, ginger and melon combined to personify the abstractness of Monsoon. Very cool, almost watery and fresh. Reviewed in detail here.
BPAL The Moths: Gypsy
LE (Metamorphosis: The Moths) It is an average perfume for BPAL, nothing spectacular but cardamom is nicely combined with tonka bean. It is sweet, aromatic, soft but short lived. Nice sweet and spicy perfume.
It has some beautiful things like pine needle, pepper, coriander but I can sense cardamom. My nose must be cheating me but it the perfume gives the same feeling as cardamom would. Maybe it is the pine needle, pepper combo. A man could pull this off in a very sexy way.
Cardamom with added apices on a soft woody base (supposedly Iso E super added generously). It has a 'mustiness' to it on my skin, which is exactly how cumin behaves on my skin. A nice masculine fresh smell that is cool and fresh.
Others worth a mention are YSL La Nuit de l'Homme (Caron's lavender vanilla with more freshness), Aesop Marrakech (review coming very soon).
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. Can't wait to write the next Kitchen Smells post!