Last fall I went to Kabul as part of a volunteer project. “I can’t wait for you to eat there!” said my friend Shannon who was organizing the initiative. I know what you’re thinking: nobody goes to Afghanistan for the food. This is true, but somewhere in between security checks and guards with AK 47s there was a whole lot of food culture to experience.
In the guest house that we were staying in, there was a full spread of boiled eggs, naan and jam for breakfast. Jam isn’t something I usually eat at breakfast time – or bread for that matter – but then again, I was in a conflict zone… if that isn’t reason to eat whatever you want, I don’t know what is. Which is how I happened upon carrot jam. It wasn’t an Afghan specialty – I think it had been imported from Saudi Arabia or somewhere else in the region – but it was good.
“I bet you could add cardamom to this and it would be really good,” I said to Shannon. (I will fully admit to having a severe cardamom problem… blame it on the Scandinavian heritage).
Thanks to a ridiculously large purchase of CSA carrots that a friend made, last week I got the chance to play around with making carrot marmalade. The result was… well… amazing. Although it has citrus in it, this marmalade doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste that some marmalades do, and the cardamom gives it almost a savory taste, which means it’s perfect on a piece of gluten free bread and paired with a breakfast of fried egg and kale.
Cardamom Carrot Marmalade
2 cups grated carrots (about 6 medium sized carrots)
2 cups water
2 cups organic cane sugar
Zest + juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Zest + juice of one orange
3 teaspoons green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground (I take whole cardamom seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder – you get larger bits of cardamom by doing this, which makes this recipe extra good)
In a saucepan, combine the water, cardamom pods and juice + zest of the orange and lemon. Bring water to a boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and take out the cardamom pods with a spoon.
Add in carrots, sugar and ground cardamom and simmer for about 30 minutes, constantly stirring.
Pour into a clean jar. Store in the refrigerator.
If the marmalade is too hard once it has set, just put it back in a saucepan with 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, warming until the marmalade loosens, then simmer until you get the consistency you want.