If you've never used cardamom pods before - to remove the seeds from the pods, place them in a mortar and tap lightly with the pestle so the pod cracks open. Pull the pod apart and dump the seeds into the mortar. Throw away the pod. Use the pestle to pulverize the cardamom. Look for a place that sells bulk spices; that's your best bet for finding the pods - and the cardamom will be cheaper and fresher. If you can't find pods (or don't have a mortar and pestle), you can buy powdered cardamom (though it generally costs an arm and a leg!). Either way, buy a SMALL quantity - you don't need much and it doesn't keep forever. Use the leftover in Indian curries, Indian Butter Chicken, add a bit to homemade granola, and more.
Cardamom, mortar & pestle
Based on Steve's favorite Jungle Camp Brownies
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Combine in a medium mixing bowl:
1 cup sugar (white and/or brown)
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (use less if your cinnamon powder is extremely fresh)
2-3 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and crushed (or a pinch-1/8 tsp ground)
1/8 tsp ginger
dash ground black pepper
Mix in with wooden spoon (this is thick - don't use a whisk unless you just want an excuse to lick the batter off):
1/3 cup oil and/or applesauce (I always use a combination)
2 eggs, beaten
splash vanilla extract (roughly 1/8 tsp)
1/4 cup coconut ("optional" - if you hate it, leave it out. If not, use it!), plus some to sprinkle on top
Pour into greased & floured (or cocoaed) 8x8 pan. Sprinkle on top:
Coconut and/or turbinado sugar
Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Serve with Vanilla Bean ice cream.
The verdict? Perfect :)