How black cardamom curbs sweetness to induce satiety (and guards against over-indulgence)

Black cardamom is amorphous sexy smoke — wrapped around integrity.

 |  4-minute read |   21-12-2018
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Black cardamom’s smoke is a shadow to dim over-indulgence.

Strong spices have plural personalities. Clove’s structure is medicinal and antiseptic, though its top note is warmth. White pepper is sandalwood coal smoulder, dressed in herbaceous floral.

Black cardamom is amorphous sexy smoke — wrapped around integrity.

Two contrarian notes: black cardamom is sexy smoke. And pure integrityTwo contrarian notes: Black cardamom is sexy smoke. And pure integrity. (Photo: Miansari66/Wikimedia Commons) 

I was born hungry. My dad repeatedly instructed me throughout my girlhood on the moral and spiritual value of nurturing life’s endeavours without thought to reward.

“Plant the seed, water the seed and nurture the seed without thinking of the fruit you might harvest from the tree,” was the general story.

I didn’t indulge his instruction for a minute. The aroma of success was an intoxicant and I breathed it in. And yet, even when the big wins did come, I was rarely satisfied for very long.

When I think of satiety, I think of pleasure, deeply felt and consciously realised. Last night, my husband cooked a simple Southern Hemisphere summer meal of pasta, pesto, corn and tuna for our two sons. Sweet and light.

Knowing my hunger went deeper than surface, I split a head of cauliflower onto a cooking tray and slid it into a hot oven. Once charred, I threw the lot into a pan hot with ghee, chilli, salt and nigella seed. Ground coriander for texture. Jaggery for sweetness. And last? Black cardamom.

Two wizened pods for rich and smoky depth.

Black cardamom is dark, deep, pure wisdom.Black cardamom is dark, deep, pure wisdom. (Photo: Twitter)

When I hold a katori of black cardamom to my nose, I’m seduced by the olfactory intoxication of sweet char — an intense bonfire blaze of aroma. Try it. Hold the pods close and breathe in deeply. Then breathe in again. Harder.

Smell the hot steel beneath the smoke.

This provision of substance in the experience of pleasure is what produces satiety. Black cardamom is a key element to creating a whole and satisfying flavour because of the structure behind its forward, charry warmth.

In my pans, black cardamom is the texture that gives heft and chew to lighter, sweeter spices, darkening and deepening the high-note moreish nature of acids and sugars with its shadow.

I don’t want my appetite for pleasure to vanish, but I do sometimes want to know how to curb it.I don’t want my appetite for pleasure to vanish — but I do sometimes want to know how to curb it. (Photo: Author)

In my life, it’s the morning kiss of my husband interrupted by our sons’ waking, but whose love behind the interrupted act carries me joyously into the day anyway.

This spice was the star in Dad’s salan-wale chawal, a contrast to sweet mutton and fragrant rice. Every time he made it, I’d be sure to bite down on one of those whole pods and — whoosh — instantly, my appetite would vanish.

I don’t want my appetite for pleasure to vanish, but I do sometimes want to know how to curb it.

This is what black cardamom teaches.

I use black cardamom when I want to find a peaceful way to step back from the temptation of over-indulgence. Black cardamom and pistachio in a cake means a small piece is gratifying. A single pod in my Spaghetti Bolognaise finds me satisfied with a less that feels on my palate as more.

Want to know how to not overeat this? Simple — just add a pod of black cardamom!Want to know how to not overeat this? Simple — just add a pod of black cardamom! (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Those two wizened pods in last night’s gobi sabzi allowed a katori of food to fill a hole of need that a plateful of pesto and sweetcorn spaghetti would have failed to touch.

I have found the discipline of giving structure to pleasure both incredibly satisfying and occasionally painful. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to me to throttle back and be in the moment when it feels like there is so much out there to grasp. Then I cook again with black cardamom and taste the reward of focus.

For those of us to whom food and spice matters, how we choose to use it is powerfully instructive.

And so I use black cardamom to remind myself the amorphous smoke of pleasure is only ever satisfying when it has integrity to wrap around.

Seduction falls short when unsupported. The spine of satiety is substance.

This is why I love black cardamom.

Also read: How a spoonful of turmeric helps the bitterness go away


Sarina Kamini Sarina Kamini

Sarina Kamini is author of Spirits In A Spice Jar, available through Westland Books and Amazon

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