Sunday, June 26, 2011
Falling in Love
I remember the first time I fell in love with cardamom. It was during my summer vacation and I had just watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with my best friend downtown. It was hot and kind of dusty. We had seen an early show and were still restless. We wandered into Kensington market and inside this tiny ice cream shop (that sadly, does not exist anymore). A tall, sandy blond guy with an Australian accent served us. I remember asking him what was in the flavour labelled "Emotional Rescue." He told me that it was vanilla and cardamom. I savoured every lick. At the time, I had no idea that "Emotional Rescue" was actually the title of a song, and so in my mind, I thought that cardamom must have some sort of soothing, calming effect that would likely rescue someone from an emotionally eruptive state. The romance faded when I learned that it was a Rolling Stones song, but I never forgot the taste of cardamom -- floral, sweet, warm and cool at the same time. But summer came and went, and as fall rolled around, that cardamom taste faded on my tongue and became a memory.
Fast forward to last December when I was having brunch at Lady Marmalade, a newly opened spot in my brand new neighbourhood. I couldn't resist ordering the multigrain porridge that came topped with cardamom apples. One bite and my ice cream memory came flooding back to me, that hazy summer wind floating past me in the thick of winter. This time, I acted quickly. I bought cardamom pods and ground cardamom and I started adding it to my curries, my oatmeal breakfasts and even to my cookies. But it wasn't until this week that I perfected a cookie recipe worth naming the Cardamom Cookie. During my experiments, I was always careful when using it. Just a teaspoon or half a teaspoon. I didn't want to overpower whatever I was making. Not this time. This cookie is cardamom all the way, and it's pretty delicious.
The texture reminds me of a package of cookies I once bought from the Indo Canada Bakery on the Danforth. Crumbly, and light, but unlike the packaged cookies that were crispy and fell apart as soon as you took a bite, these home made ones are tender and almost chewy when you bite into them and crumble as you chew. It's got whole wheat flour, and semolina flour, giving it a unique crumb and toasty flavour. And oh, the cardamom. Smelling them in the oven is enough to soothe you, but for total relaxation, enjoy a couple with a cup of afternoon tea or coffee.
Cardamom, you are my emotional rescue.
Vegan Cardamom Cookies
makes about 2 dozen
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups of semolina flour
2 rounded teaspoons of ground cardamom
1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, brown sugar and tapioca flour until well blended.
2. Sift in the tapioca flour, flour, cardamom and baking soda and give it a good mix. Add the semolina flour and give it another good mix.
3. Drop teaspoon fulls (you might have to give them an extra squeeze to hold them together) of cookie dough onto a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the tops of cracked and the edges are slightly golden.
4. Serve warms with coffee, tea and your favourite relaxing music.