A few weeks ago I discovered how good cardamom is on chicken, but I've had trouble duplicating this success. The jar I have is a fine powder, firmly packed, and direct seasoning is hard to control. My pan doesn't have a lid so instead of frying I tend to cook chicken (usually skinless thighs) in a couple inches of broth to make sure it's fully cooked, but it seems the cardamom just washes away. Any suggestions?
Thanks for these great tips, everyone! I'll have to buy the pods for later experimentation, but next time I cook thighs the plan is, based on suggestions here, to leave the skin on and baste the chicken under the skin with the powder mixed either with oil or butter to keep it sticky. Will follow up and let everyone know!
definitely crush the green cardamom pods before use. you can do this with a mortar & pestle but it is easy and satisfying to do on the countertop or cutting board with the flat base of a glass--works best with very fresh spice pods. a quick rap and you get a small burst of that wonderful aroma-- one of the little joys of using this ingredient. if you are serving basmati rice, try tossing a pod or two in with the rice and water as you cook it for a subtle punch of flavor. a crushed cardamom pod is also great in a simple rum cocktail. don't forget cardamom in baking. . . mmm, finninsh cardamom rolls/breads!
to the op's question with the chicken and pre-crushed cardamom, either add the powdered cardamom to a marinade, and/or toast the powdered cardamom (briefly so as not to burn it!) in the oil before adding onion & aromatics and browning the chicken. add a little less broth maybe to the pan. if your pan doesn't have a lid, could you place a second pan on top of the first to act as a lid? sorry if that is a little mcgyver, but improvisation is essential sometimes to get the result you want when cooking. the combination of frying followed by a quick braise/steam in less liquid will help make the chicken more flavorful and tender the way you like.
Here's a favorite around our house...
Cut a pound of chicken thighs into cubes and marinate in a zip-top bag with half a cup of plain yogurt for several hours or overnight.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil on high heat. Toss in half a dozen cardamom pods, a couple of cloves, a bay leaf, a small cinnamon stick, and a healthy pinch each of fennel seeds and cumin seeds. Stir for a few seconds until the spices start to color.
Reduce heat to medium and add a large onion, finely sliced. Cook about 10 minutes until the onion is medium brown, stirring often to prevent burning. Turn the heat down a little more and add a clove or two of minced garlic and some grated fresh ginger. If you want it spicy, toss in a minced hot green chile or several. Continue cooking until the onion is fairly dark.
Add the chicken and the yogurt and a heavy pinch of salt and stir to combine. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes to half an hour, stirring occasionally. The onion should disintegrate and thicken the sauce. If things get too dry, add a little water or chicken stock, but don't thin it out too much - you want a thick sauce that clings to the meat. Adjust seasonings and put in a serving dish, sprinkle with ground cardamom, and garnish with mint sprigs or cilantro. Serve with basmati rice.
(Note: you can fish out the whole cardamom pods, bay leaf, cinnamon, and cloves before serving, or you can just eat around them.)
I also find that using the whole pods (gently crushed) is the best way to use cardamom. The powder varies greatly in potency--seems hard to regulate. Cooking it briefly in hot oild as recommended takes the medicinal edge off of it, too. And, as you know, cardamom is one of those bossy spices that always has to have its say in a dish...can be overpowering pretty easily.
I assume you start out frying - do what the Indians do, and start with an inital step of frying a few cardamon pods and maybe a bay leaf and some peppercorns in your fat. When they sizzle, give off a scent and swell up a bit add the chicken and brown it (onions tt, if using). After the chicken is seared, you can add your fluid and proceed. Chicken cooks pretty quickly even without a cover - I think if you keep the fluid amount down you will get more flavor intensity.
PS - altho I recommend fring here, maybe my assumption is wrong - if you are poaching it makes sense to infuse the cardomon flavor into the chkn by allowing them to cook in your fluid - like a tea- before adding the chicken.
I usually put cardamom in a little healthy oil, stir a little to mix
Since you are using skinless thighs, with a paper towel,dab thighs to dry.
Mix together how much healthy oil & cardamom you think you will need..
with fingers spread oil onto thighs (both sides) it will help keep the meat from
getting tough when cooking.
No lid? Cover with aluminum foil or a universal frying lid.
Cook till liquids run clear.
Hope this helps