This recipe comes from one of the best spice books we've ever found; Jill Norman's Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference. Along with the beautiful photos and useful information, she includes a whole slew of recipes from around the world.
We used this particular recipe for our Chicago, A Spicy Melting Pot event in the Old Town shop, in conjunction with the city of Chicago's 2005 'Stirring Things Up in Chicago' summer events.
Yield: 6 servings
Put the milk, or light cream, vanilla bean and crushed cardamom pods into a heavy pan and bring slowly to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let infuse for 20 minutes. Take out the vanilla bean and scape the seeds into the liquid. Remove the crushed green cardamom pods.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Gently reheat the milk or cream and beat a little of it into the egg yolks. Pour the egg mixture into the cream and return the pan to a low heat. Stir until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; it will take several minutes. Do not let it boil, or you'll get pieces of scrambled egg.
To add optional saffron, steep threads in 2 tablespoons of steamed milk or hot water. Once saffron has diffused and liquid has cooled, add it with other ingredients.
Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until it has almost cooled. Whip the whipping cream lightly and fold it into the custard. Add the 1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom. Freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer's instructions.
Be careful not to add too much cardamom to the recipe. Cardamom is a very strong flavor, and too much of it can cause a soapy taste.