Spice-steamed Artichokes
90 Min

Spice-steamed Artichokes

Over twenty-five years ago, when I was living with my young family here in the suburbs of Houston, a lovely young French neighbor invited me to lunch. Our children were in school together and as I walked in; she was cracking open a bottle of white wine. A Dutch oven was on slow simmer on her back stove and the aroma of warm bread was wafting from the oven. Sharon, a voracious cook I found out later, announced that she had made us artichoke for lunch. I was intrigued. While I had seen the big bulbous vegetables in the store, I had never actually cooked or eaten one in its original form. She lifted a steaming hot artichoke on a plate for each of us along with little bowls of vinaigrette on the side. Guessing that I had no clue how to eat it, she pulled off a leaf, dipped the fleshy bottom part in into the vinaigrette, sucked on it, discarded it and went on to pull the next leaf. I followed suit and soon, we were on repeat with dipping, sucking and smacking our lips in pure joy. When we got to the bottom part, we discarded the choke/hairy beard and cut into the heart, the piece de resistance. We even peeled the stem and ate the tender pulp inside it. That artichoke lunch remains one of my top favorite food memories of all time and our family adopted it with great gusto. 

Artichoke, which is essentially an edible thistle, originated in the Mediterranean region and is the same species as a cardoon. It grows locally in Texas during spring/summer and the stores are now filled with large green and purple artichokes. Here is a simple recipe that turns the artichoke aromatic using whole spices, after which you get to eat it with yogurt as a dipping sauce. 

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Cook Time

1 hour and 30 minutes



Step 1
In a wide Dutch oven, place the artichokes in a single layer on their side. Pour 6 to 8 cups of water on top and sprinkle the spices and salt around them. Turn the heat to high then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, covered. Let the artichokes rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 2
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the yogurt with honey, ginger, salt and black pepper.
Step 3
In a small frying pan over high heat, warm the olive oil until it is shimmering and add the cumin seeds. They will pop and sizzle within seconds, immediately turn the heat off. Pour this oil into the yogurt mixture and stir gently.
Step 4
When ready to serve the artichoke, lift them out of the steaming water and squeeze lemon juice over all of them. Serve warm alongside the yogurt sauce.

4 large artichokes preferably with long stems

1 large stick cinnamon

10 to 12 green cardamom pods

1 teaspoon cloves

1 tablespoon salt

2 whole large lemons

1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt

1 tablespoon honey or sugar

1 tablespoon finely minced ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Notes & Variations

  • If the top leaves of the artichoke appear brown or frizzy, discard them. You could also peel the stem or peel it after it has steamed, while eating it.
  • For a more luxurious version, pour a few tablespoons of melted butter over the artichokes along with the lemon juice.
90 Min


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