What Do You Do With an Assload of Cardamom?

One of my goals for the month is to do a bit of from-scratch cooking, and I made my first attempt at that on Sunday.

Here’s the recipe: Chicken Massalé, from Oh! You Cook!, but originally from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures, and via the Secret Recipe Club.

I learned a few lessons from making this recipe. First off, yogurt is hard. I don’t buy it much; to me it just tastes like milk that’s gone a bit off. So I wasn’t prepared for the yogurt cooler thingy. There are yogurts of more or less every flavor: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, cookie, donkey*. Shelves and shelves of the stuff, just loaded with extra flavors and probably sugar, all of which I was pretty sure I didn’t want, since I was pretty sure the recipe demanded plain.

Even plain yogurt is complicated; there’s milky yogurt and Greek yogurt and soy yogurt and tree-based serums and so on. Then there’s the problem of quantity: The recipe only needs one cup, but you can’t buy less than 2 pounds of the closest thing to “plain yogurt” that I could find. Instead I went for “plain Greek yogurt” which was available in a 1-pound tub and I’ve also heard that Greek yogurt is the kale of yogurts.

Quantities became even more problematic when I was buying the spices. See, the recipe requires a fair number of the things, and since I don’t do a huge amount of cooking, I needed to buy a bunch. Had I put all that together I probably wouldn’t have gone through with it, but I had already had the yogurt and the chicken in my basket, so I was committed.

Cardamom receipt


But spices are pricey. And for some reason, the grocery store doesn’t really sell particularly small quantities of them. The result: $15 was the smallest quantity of cardamom available.

I’ve managed to go my entire life without purchasing cardamom, and I used about a teaspoon of it here. If I continue to use one teaspoon per 38 years, 10 and a half months, I should have enough cardamom for approximately 389 years.

But I don’t like the idea of wasting “food,” so instead, I’m going to institute:

The Official Fat Boy Big Wall

Which is harder: A Spartan Beast or a single man using an entire jar of cardamom? The experiment begins. Here’s my progress so far:

Cardamom Watch as of 2-10-15

The status of my cardamom as of February 10, 2015.

Stay tuned for updates!

After the excitement of Cardamom Watch, it’s kind of an anticlimax to tell you about the recipe, isn’t it? But in the interest of information: I wasn’t overly impressed by it, although I suspect that’s more cook’s error than any fault in the recipe. I probably overcooked the chicken and didn’t grind or roast the spices, and the yogurt didn’t seem to be the kind of texture it should have been. In other words, someone with a modicum of ability can probably make it better. (It’s probably best if you’ve purchased cardamom at some point in the past.)

* In an improv class once, I inadvertently appeared to be trying to force a joke in a warm-up exercise where everyone was in a circle and we just named foods in rapid succession, and I said “donkey.” But I wasn’t; I had just gotten home from a tour of the woodworking factories of Italy, Switzerland, and Austria**, and at one of the meals they served donkey—both the meat (which tasted kind of gritty) and some kind of “delicacy” made with the intestines or some other entrail, which I did not sample. The point of improv warm-ups is to get your mind into a state where you’re instinctively reacting to what is happening, rather than trying to plan your thoughts; the fact that something simultaneously weird and true tumbled out of my mouth should have been viewed as a Good Thing.

** I was working at a woodworking trade magazine at the time. It wasn’t a recreational tour of the woodworking factories of Italy, Switzerland, and Austria—although the bus ride through the Alps was lovely, and the night we spent in Lucerne was also quite nice. And I got to see The Last Supper in Milan. I assume it did not have donkey.


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Filed under Cardamom Watch, Cooking

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