Getting to Know Cardamom is part of FBC's The Spice Box series, where we aim to help you build a well stocked spice cabinet that takes your cooking to the next level! What is cardamom? And how can you use cardamom in your kitchen? Read on to find out!
Latin Name: Green Cardamom - Elettaria Cardamomum, Black Cardamom - Amomum Villosum
Hindi: Elaichi (e-lahi-chee) (Chhoti (small) for Green and Badi (large) or Moti (fat) for Black)
What Is Cardamom?
Cardamom is a spice that's used in both sweet and savoury cooking in many cuisines all over the globe. It's becoming an increasingly popular spice that's exported world wide. In fact, did you know that cardamom is the world's third most valuable spice, only superseded by saffron and vanilla?
Cardamom comes in two varieties, green cardamom and black cardamom. The little green cardamom pods are smaller, while the black cardamom pods are larger and pack a stronger, even harsher, punch of flavour.
What Does Cardamom Taste Like?
Green and black cardamom vary wildly in their flavours.
Green cardamom is mild with sweet/ spicy notes and a light, almost eucalyptus-like floral bouquet.
Black cardamom, on the other hand, has a strong and very unsubtle, but highly distinctive, smoky flavour. The taste of black cardamom almost verges on harsh.
Where Does Cardamom Come From?
Cardamom is grown in the tropical areas around the Indian Ocean, with Kerala and Karnataka in India producing the hardiest varieties. Sri Lanka has also been growing cardamom. That said, it's Guatemala that currently produces most of the cardamom used all over the world with India and Sri Lanka coming a close second.
How To Use Cardamom In Your Kitchen
Cardamom is used in both sweet and savoury cooking, and adds flavour that enhances the fragrance and taste of the dish.
How To Use Green Cardamom
Green cardamom can be used in three ways
- Lightly crushed with the pod
- Seeds only.
Cardamom powder, or ground cardamom, can be quite expensive, so it's worth buying whole green pods and crushing the seeds in small quantities to make your own.
I like leaving whole spices in my dishes, as I don't mind the extra flavour they impart, but if you are fussy about whole spices, you can always tie them up in a small muslin bag, similar to a bouquet garni, and then remove the bag just before serving.
Green cardamom is also a staple in Middle Eastern, Thai Massaman and Mediterranean cuisines, as well as in Finnish and some Scandinavian countries. My recent favourite has been cardamom flavoured coffee, and of course, it's a staple in chai. Almost all Indian desserts use cardamom, with my personal favourite being Gulab Jamun.
How To Use Black Cardamom
Black cardamom seeds are used in a classic garam masala, and they're what imparts the slightly smoky flavour to the spice mix. Black cardamom can be quite overpowering, but used carefully and in small quantities adds warm flavour to dishes.
What are you favourite ways to use cardamom? Leave us a note in the comments to let us know!
A Cardamom Recipe To Try:
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The Spice Box is written by Michelle Peters-Jones, author of the The Tiffin Box blog where she writes about East Indian, British and Canadian food, with a strong focus on using fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. She stumbled into the world of food after competing on the BBC’s Masterchef UK. She is a freelance recipe tester and food writer and teaches Indian cooking classes in Edmonton. Michelle was born and brought up in India and lived in England for several years before moving to her current home in Edmonton.