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Chocolate and cardamom buns

Cardamom is a spice that I will always associate with my mother - not because of its name, but because I first encountered this distinctive, sweet spice when I baked a polenta cake flavoured with cardamom and rosewater for her birthday almost ten years ago. We had just returned from a family holiday to Paris, where we had eaten a Lebanese meal in a department store one steamy summer's evening. We didn't want to eat anything too heavy, so a plate full of mezze was perfect for us: stuffed vine leaves, light and crispy pastries, slathered in roasted aubergine and houmous. The desserts, to my ten year-old self, seemed extremely exotic: delicate mousses and cakes flavoured with pistachios, rose and cardamom.

Since then, I have started to use cardamom more frequently in my cooking. It's such a versatile spice; you can use it in korma or daal, as well as adding it to warm milky drinks and baked goods like these buns. It's a rather distinctive taste, so I understand if it's…

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