Cardamom

Whole cardamom seeds

Cardamom is a greed pod filled with seeds that are slightly sticky. They come from the Elletaria cardamomum plant which is a part of the ginger family. The seeds have been used as food and also for medicinal purposes in India and Sri Lanka for thousands of years. Guatemala is now the biggest producer of this spice. Black seeds are a sign of quality, while lighter-colored, pale seeds should be avoided.

Flavor

Cardamom seeds have a sweet minty flavor that has a citrusy, herbal undertone. Cardamom contains cineole which provides herbaceous and eucalyptus flavor notes, suitable for a versatile range of dishes. Once heated, the spice becomes highly fragrant. If you’ve ever been inside an Indian restaurant, it’s likely this is one of the aromas filling the dining area.

Pairs with

Proteins

  • duck
  • pork
  • chicken
  • beef
  • lamb
  • rabbit

Vegetables

  • sweet potatoes
  • peas
  • corn
  • carrots
  • citrus
  • pumpkin

Spices

  • ginger
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • turmeric
  • allspice
  • caraway

Spice blends: curry powder, chai, ras el hanout, baharat, tagine spice, garam masala.

Culinary uses

Cardamom can be used in a wide range of savory and spice dishes thanks to its fresh, sweet flavor notes. Moderation is essential when using this spice as it can easily overwhelm the other other flavors.

Indian cooking uses the spice to flavor rice, curries, and also it is included in popular spice blends like garam masala.

A subtle hint of cardamom works well in cakes, gingerbread, cookies, and pastries. It pairs especially well with apples and citrus fruit like grapefruit.

In the Middle East, coffee is taken to a refreshing new level with the addition of a split pod.

How much? Use 1 ½ teaspoons of cardamom in vegetables, baked goods, and white meat. Increase the quantity to two teaspoons for a pound of red meat.

Substitutes

To replace cardamom in a recipe use equal parts cloves and cinnamon. Alternatively, you can use nutmeg. They won’t perfectly mimic the flavor, but they won’t taste out of place in most recipes. Replace a half teaspoon of ground cardamom, use 10 whole pods.

Storage

Store whole pods in an airtight container or jar in a dark, dry place for up to one year.

Quick Facts

NameDescription
FamilyZingiberaceae
Flavor compoundCineole, A-fenchyl acetate, limeone,
Botanical nameElettaria cardamomum
Parts usedPods and seeds
Other namesQueen of spices, small cardamom
Previous articleCaraway
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