Cinnamon: a delicious pick-me-up
We're all familiar with cinnamon and no doubt mostly enjoy it in the wintertime in gingerbread cookies, punch, speculoos, cinnamon swirls and many other foods and drinks, usually sweet. However, this spicy, aromatic bark has a wide range of uses and is an excellent addition to hearty dishes such as the Mexican dish mole.
Cinnamon: its origin, history and long journey to Europe
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices and has been used for over 2000 years in widely diverse areas. It was originally used as a medicine, an aphrodisiac and incense and with the passing of time began to be used as a spice for food and drink. None other than the bark of the cinnamon tree, in the early days cinnamon was only cultivated in the Far East in countries like Sri Lanka, Burma and Bangladesh, meaning that it was one of the most expensive spices and in Europe it was mainly reserved for the wealthy. This explains why cinnamon was not widely used in European dishes. However, when it was used, it was in delicious treats like lebkuchen, which were only seen on special occasions. Today we mainly differentiate between two types – the more high-quality and costly Ceylon cinnamon and the mass-farmed cassia cinnamon, which is mostly farmed in China and Indonesia.
Mexican mole with cinnamon: the perfect aromatic blend
A very tasty and exotic example of its use is the Mexican dish mole. In the indigenous language Nahuatl, mole means sauce. The most well-known one is guacamole which, contrary to many other mole variants, does not contain cinnamon. Classic mole is a spicy sauce usually made from chillies, nuts and many other spices, which almost always include cinnamon. Many mole recipes often contain from 35 to 70 ingredients and take several hours or even days to prepare. This exciting, highly complex, aromatic sauce is popular with enchiladas, rice, beans and chicken and is unique in terms of how it is made and its flavour. Anyone who has the chance to try a mole any time should definitely take it. Alternatively, they can get hold of a recipe and the many different ingredients and try their hand at making it.
Cinnamon: physical well-being in a mouth-watering treat
Until the early modern period, cinnamon was rumoured to have a healing effect on coughs and colds, as well as to aid digestion, bowel movements and urine output. In contemporary medicine, its ability to lower the blood sugar in the early stages of diabetes is also under debate. What’s more, cinnamon bark contains antioxidants that trap free radicals in the body and reduce oxidative stress in the cells. It is certainly true that for anyone who likes cinnamon, this spice tastes great and its aroma triggers feelings of relaxation and well-being. You’re sure to feel all warm and fuzzy inside when you see these delicious polenta slices with cardamom-infused plums, yoghurt and cinnamon honey.
RECIPE: Polenta slices with cardamom-infused plums, yoghurt and cinnamon honey
Preparation time: approx. 30 minutes (plus the time to cook and cool the polenta)
Type of dish: gluten-free, vegetarian
- 250 g maize flour
- 250 ml almond milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp butter
- 5 plums
- 4 tbsp cane sugar
- 250 g Greek yoghurt
- zest of a lemon
- 4 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cardamom
How to make polenta slices with cardamom-infused plums, yoghurt and cinnamon honey:
- Start by placing the almond milk and two tablespoons of sugar in a pan and heating it.
- Now add the maize flour to the almond milk, stirring continuously, and cook over a low heat for about five minutes.
- Leave the polenta to cool, add the egg and stir in gently.
- Now spread the polenta out to a thickness of approx. two centimetres on a baking tray lined with baking paper, smooth it over and leave to cool.
- While the polenta is cooling, wash the plums, remove the stones and cut into pieces of equal size.
- Next, put the plums in another pan with the rest of the sugar and the ground cardamom, mix them all together, put the lid on the pan and cook over a low heat for about ten minutes.
- Now stir the cinnamon into the honey in a small bowl.
- Cut the polenta into squares of equal size and fry in a frying pan with butter until both sides are golden brown.
- Put the yoghurt on plates, lay the polenta slices on top, add the hot plums and drizzle with the cinnamon honey.
- Finally, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and lemon zest and your delicious dessert is ready.
- Have fun trying out the recipe and enjoy yourselves!