A friend made this ice cream for me when I was 14 or so. It was the first time I had tasted ice cream straight out of the maker, and I never forgot it. Six years later, when I got my own machine, the first thing I did was ask for the recipe. The texture is ethereal, and the flavor will many a cardamom skeptic. This is adapted slightly from Ming Tsai's lemongrass ice cream (which provides cardamom as a suggested flavor substitute). —thebunalsorises
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cardamom pods, and vanilla bean. Heat over medium until scalded. Turn the heat down and simmer until the mixture is reduced by one-third, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let mixture cool. Put in the fridge, and let steep for 2 hours.
Strain the mixture. Return liquid to saucepan, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with cold water and ice. In another bowl, whisk yolks and sugar to blend. Add a ladleful of the scalded milk to the yolk mixture. Whisk until combined. Now transfer the yolk mixture to the saucepan to combine with the remaining milk (AKA "tempering the yolks").
Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook, or the eggs will scramble.
Strain the mixture into a medium bowl, and place in your ice bath to cool, stirring occasionally. When cool, add cream, and stir to blend. Freeze in an ice cream maker, about 25-30 minutes. The ice cream will look soft and pillowy. Transfer to the freezer. Remove to room temperature for a few minutes before serving.