|Also known as green cardamon, cardamom is also frequently misspelled as cardomom. Belonging to the same family as turmeric and ginger, cardamom is indigenous to India and Sri Lanka but is now also harvested in Cambodia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. Our Green Cardamom is grown in Guatemala. Most of the cardamom consumed is the US is sourced from Guatemala because the small amount grown in India is typically all used there, leaving little for export.
Green cardamom pods are preferred by both chefs and serious home cooks. Top quality cardamom is harvested while still immature and sun-dried to preserve its bright green color. Green cardamom pods are often difficult to find and therefore a bit expensive. Whole pods have a superior ability to retain the much sought after flavor and aroma.
Smaller pods are generally more flavorful and thus the most prized. Whole cardamom pods are preferred for maintaining the best flavor. The inner seeds are a dark brown to almost black in color and are typically sticky. The rule of thumb is the stickier the seed the fresher the product. Cardamom seeds are also called cardamom decorticated or cardamom hulled which means the seeds have been removed from the pods.
Cardamom is believed to have been first used in by the Ancient Greeks, then the Romans and into the middle ages. It is believed that Alexander the Great exported the first cardamom pods from India into Europe. Today Cardamom is very popular in African, Arab, Asian, Indian and Scandinavian cuisines.
Cardamom’s flavor is complex, slightly sweet, floral, and spicy with citrus undertones. It is best to grind cardamom fresh for superior aroma and flavor as once ground both are quickly lost. Cardamom intensifies both savory and sweet flavors and is a key ingredient in many spice blends – most notably, Apple Pie Spice, Baharat, Berbere,curry powders, Garam Masala and Ras El Hanout.
In India whole pods are fried to extract the flavor and added to vegetable and meat curries. In Europe the seed is used to flavor breads and pastries. In the Arab world as a show of welcoming hospitality, visitors may be offered a cup of coffee flavored with cardamom and cream. In Scandinavian countries cardamom is found in various types of bread dishes, sweet pastry and is added to recipes the way we use cinnamon.
Cardamom can also be used for savory flavoring in pâtés, purées, rice, sauces, soups, stews and with chicken, meats, seafood and vegetables. If you want to enhance sweet dishes try adding cardamom seeds to your homemade custard, ice cream, rice pudding or sprinkle them over a fresh fruit salad.
Whole Cardamom pods, when slightly crushed, are used to flavor casseroles, curries, rice and stew. Add both the crushed pod and the seeds to the cooking pot as the pod will dissolve while providing a bit of extra flavor to the dish.
If you just want the seeds place the cardamom pod(s) in your mortar and lightly pound the pods with the pestle. The pods will split open and the seeds will spill out.
One ounce of Cardamom Pods is approximately 200 pods. Each Green Cardamom Pod holds 12-18 seeds and it takes about 10 pods to produce one teaspoon of ground cardamom.
Closely related to Green Cardamom is Black Cardamom. Black Cardamom should never be used as a substitute for Green as the flavor of the Black Cardamom is much earthier with sweet and flowery notes. You’ll find Black Cardamom called for in some African recipes and in India it is used to add a bacony flavor to vegetarian dishes.
Be careful when using cardamom for the first time as a little goes a long way and it is very easy to overpower a dish.
We especially like Green Cardamom with apples, oranges, pears, sweet potatoes and use whole pods in coffee.
Works well in combination with chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, paprika, pepper and saffron.
One of our favorite recipes using cardamom is this Cardamom Spice Cake.