THE sparseness of Ethiopian terrain may not lead you to suspect that the cuisine necessarily has hidden treasures, but it does, not least in the fiery heat of its chili and also its basic injera flour which form spongy flatbread bases for its spiky slow cooked dishes. But it also champions a tea of cardamom which is also alkaline.
In historic Indian medicine, the Ayurveda, cardamom seeds are sucked after a meal to help digestion, the more necessary after a spicy, often acidic curry. Cardomom counteracts a build up of gases and reduces the mucus levels.
Along with ginger – it is the same family – it has been used to counteract overeating and to freshen the breath. It contains cineole which cleans the mouth. This is the Ethiopian version as served at the Marathon in Kings Cross – it is just green pods and hot water. Ethiopia is also known for its coffee, so the fact that the cardamom gets on the menu at all says something.
Arabic versions can go a few steps further adding peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and ginger – all alkaline. Adding sugar and milk on the other hand slightly misses the point, although honey is often added.