Foreign Food: Cardamom Simple Syrup

Last month while I was visiting Colorado, I had the privilege of dining at restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail. Focusing on seasonal American cuisine, this Top Chef season 7 contender wowed our taste buds with a delicious palate of flavors from tender roasted vegetables and sweetbreads to rabbit and potato-crusted trout. The table was constantly passing around its plates so that everyone could try each dish.

Everything at Kelly Liken was spectacular, but there was one course that blew my mind- and it was the palate cleanser! One bite of the juicy grapefruit granita topped with cardamom foam and my taste buds erupted into a standing ovation. So simple yet bursting at the seams with bright, awakening flavors.

Since this dinner, I have been dreaming about this flavor combination and curious about cardamom. Where can you get it? What can you use it in? Then my cousin called wanting to make Italian sodas- cardamom-grapefruit Italian sodas it was! I headed to Spiceology to see if they carried it and easily found a bottle (click here to read about it!).

Cardamom, known as "queen of the spices", is native to India although Guatemala is now the largest producer. You may recognize its flavor from chai tea- these pods, smelling of eucalyptus and lemon, must be picked by hand making it second in price to saffron (1).  The scent is invigorating- I admit to giving the bottle a good sniff every once and a while!

Making simple syrup is, well, simple. Boil some water, dissolve in the sugar...
 ...and add your flavoring ingredient of choice!
After the mixture cools, the pods are removed and you are left with a tasty syrup suitable for flavoring beverages or brushing on to freshly baked cake to keep it moist and add flavor.
For my Italian soda, I mixed some of the cardamom syrup with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a splash of club soda for a refreshing spritzer.
For an adult version- throw in some grapefruit flavored vodka! This cardamom syrup would also go well with blood orange juice- the possibilities are endless!
Check back later for some other simple syrup recipes including raspberry and blackberry. No artificial flavorings here!

Want to know what else to do with cardamom? Check out these links:

Cardamom Simple Syrup
1 c sugar
1 c water
5-7 whole cardamom pods

1. Bring water to a boil.
2. Stir in sugar until it dissolves.
3. Remove from the heat and add cardamom pods. Let sit 30 minutes.
4. Remove pods and let syrup completely cool before using. Refrigerate for up to 3-6 months.

Cardamom-Grapefruit Italian Soda
1.5 oz cardamom syrup
1/2 c grapefruit juice
Club soda

1. Combine syrup and juice over ice.
2. Top with splash of club soda.

1- Green, Aliza Starting with Ingredient


Anonymous said...

I came across your blog when I googled cardamom syrup. I know weird, but I love cardamom and I wanted to see what was out there. I had just made a verbena and thyme syrup and mixed it with soda, so I was game to try something like it with cardamom. So, I just tried your recipe for the Grapefruit and Cardamom Italian Soda-- So Good. Love it. Thanks for sharing it.

Lauren said...

So glad that you tried and loved it! That verbena and thyme syrup sounds delicious- do you have a recipe to share?

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