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Cardamom orgy at Damavand market

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Cardamom orgy at Damavand market

Ruth Lafler | Nov 23, 2009 09:29 AM

I had an errand to run in Newark Sunday, so I took the opportunity to stop into Damavand market and indulge my passion for cardamom. There's so much good stuff packed into this tiny market. My friend and I marvelled over the spices (I bought some highly aromatic black cumin seeds), argued over what turned out to be bulk jaggery (solidified raw sugar, similar to piloncillo), and were seduced into buying four different cardamom-scented items.

Old favorites were the Afghan sweet called "shir-para" -- a kind of cooked milk fondant with ground walnuts, pistachios and cardamom, and the Persian-style bakalava (one of several they carry, recognizable because of it's thinner, less flaky and cut into small diamond shapes) that's make with almond paste and scented with cardamom and rosewater. In addition, I bought some cardamom-scented tea (Sadaf brand, says "blended and packed in Sri Lanka"); I drink my black tea with lots of milk, and the bright, citrusy flavor of the cardamom really shines through. And, at the insistance of the man ahead of me in the check-out line, something called Roat "cookie bread" (ingredients: whole wheat, eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, milk and natural spices). "Natural spices" unfortunately does not identify the small black seeds scattered across the top. The man in line said they were poppy seeds, but I don't think so, as they are slightly larger, tear-drop shaped rather than round, and don't taste like poppy seeds. After tasting one, I believe they may be nigella seeds ( http://www.chow.com/ingredients/309 ). At any rate, this "cookie bread" -- which is more like an inch-thick dry cake -- has a light cardamom flavor as well. It's going really well with my cardamom tea (it's clearly designed to be eaten with tea or coffee).

In other news, the Indian restauarant in the strip mall across the street has changed its name and is no longer Mughal Cuisine but the more prosaic Kabab and Curry. Don't know if it's the same ownership.

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