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What Is Black Cardamom Pods : Uses, Benefits and Substitutes

What Is Black Cardamom Pods : Uses, Benefits and Substitutes

Black Cardamom pods are smoky deeply aromatic spice used in Indian dishes that many don’t know about but have surely tasted it. What are they and how is it different from Green cardamom? 

Black Cardamoom pods buy online list of indian spices
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The uses of black cardamom pods in cooking Indian dishes is very popular across the sub continent. Also known as ‘Badi elaichi’ or ‘moti elaichi’ in Hindi, this fragrant spice holds a special place in Indian cuisine.

Some also refer to them as brown cardamom due to their dark brown colour. It is not just the size, colour and shape that is different to green cardamom. It is the distinctive smokey flavour that is so unique to using black cardamom pods in cooking.

Read along to find out what is black cardamom used for in cooking, how is it different from green cardamom and the benefits.

What Is Cardamom Spice?

Black cardamom pods are native Indian spice used in cooking many savoury dishes.

It is a whole bud with small black seeds inside when you crack it open.

Although known as black, the colour is a deep shade of brown than black.

The skin is rough and wrinkly.

If you were under the impression that it belongs to the same family as green cardamom then you are wrong.

Not only do green and black cardamom belong to different plants but have a completely different taste, appearance and usage in cooking.

Other Names Of Black Cardamom Pods

English – Black Cardamom, Brown Cardamom

Black Cardamon in Hindi – Badi Elaichi, Kali Elaichi, Moti Elaichi

Black Cardamom in German –  Schwarzer Kardamom

Black Cardamom in French – Cardamome noire

Black Cardamom in Spanish – Cardamomo negro

Different Types Of Cardamom Pods

Not many are aware that there are 3 different types of cardamom that is used for cooking:

  • Green Cardamom
  • Black or Brown Cardamom
  • White Cardamom

Green Cardamom is perhaps the most popular spice easily available in most superstores. It is used in many different cuisines for different purposes

White Cardamom is the bleached variety of green cardamom and used less often in dishes. It is a cheaper version of green cardamom that has a milder flavour profile compared to the other cardamoms.

The small seeds inside a whole black cardamom pod is a warming aromatic spice mostly used to cook mainly savoury dishes.

Difference Between Black Cardamom and Green Cardamom

When it comes to cooking with cardamom there is a difference between green vs black cardamom pods.

Green cardamoms are the most popular and widely used cardamon all over the world.

While the use of black cardamom is mostly in South Asian cuisine.

The cooking uses of green and black cardamom both same, that is the whole pods are used to temper in warm oil although both have different flavour profiles.

Green cardamom is more aromatic, with fresh citrusy notes compared to the woody smoky flavour of black cardamom.

The use of green cardamom is more versatile, that is it can be used to make both savoury and sweet dishes while black cardamom is primarily used in savoury dishes.

Difference between green and black cardamom and seeds comp
Difference between Black Cardamom and Green Cardamom

What Does Black Cardamom Taste Like

Black cardamom has a strong, smoky flavour.

Most of the black cardamom taste and flavour comes from the tiny seeds inside the pod.

The whole pods are dried over an open fire for a long time which gives it a strong, pungent woody aroma that distinguishes it from other spices.

Under the robust smoky flavours you will also get a slight menthol undertone that is similar to green cardamom yet very different.

Due to the strong smoky flavours that render warming notes to the dish, black cardamom is classified as a warm spice similar to cloves, black pepper and cinnamon.

How To Use Cardamom Pods

The cooking uses of black cardamom is popular in South Asian and Indian curries and other dishes.

It is mostly used to make savoury dishes since smoky flavour in desserts and sweets is not favoured. There is a slight difference in how you cook with cardamom pods vs seeds.

Below are few tips on black cardamom uses in cooking.

Uses Of Whole Black Cardamom Pods

Whole Black cardamom pods
Black cardamom pods

A common use of whole cardamom pods is when a dish requires a relatively long time to simmer, such as when making rice, whole grains, lentils, meat dishes or even broths for soups and stews! The prolonged simmering of the dish in a liquid helps to squeeze out the oils and inject the dish with a woody freshness!

Below are some cooking ideas:

  • The large pods are used in whole form or maybe slightly pounded to flatten it before adding to the dish to expose the seeds inside.
  • Throw in whole cardamom in warm oil to temper the spice and release the aromatic oils from the pod.
  • You can also add whole pods for slow cooking stews or in liquid broth to infuse the dish with a delicate smoky aroma.
  • Black Cardamom is also one of the most important spices that go into making the authentic Indian spice called Garam Masala Powder which is why its use in Indian cuisine is indispensable.

Uses of Black Cardamom Seeds

Black cardamom seeds
Black cardamom seeds

You may find the seeds of black cardamom being sold in some ethnic stores.

The uses of the seeds are similar to that of the whole pods above. However a point to note is that the seeds do tend to get into your mouth and maybe hard to scoop out from the dish it is added to.

Uses of Ground Black Cardamom

Ground Black cardamom

Although rare to find but you can also buy black cardamom in ground form. Be mindful that the ground version is much stronger than the whole pods and you will need to use it sparingly in dishes to avoid overpowering the dish with a smoky cardamom flavour.

Here are tips on how to use it if you happen to have black cardamom powder:

  • Mix powdered black cardamom with other spices to make marinates for red meat.
  • Add it to stews and curry base sauces.
  • Add a pinch to smoothies for a smoky fragrance.
  • Use for BBQ’s
  • Sprinkle of melted cheese


Here is a short video you can watch on cooking with black cardamom.

How To Grind Whole Cardamom Pods

If you wish to use the powder instead of the whole pods you can easily grind them at home.

You will need a heavy mortar and pestle to grind it as smooth as possible. You can also use a spice/coffee grinder for make a powder.

Firstly, remove the seeds from the pods. Place the seeds in the mortar and grind it as fine as you wish the consistently to be.

Handy Cooking Tips When Using Black Cardamom Pods

Below are few tips to keep in mind when cooking with black cardamom:

  • As the skin of black cardamom is rough and hard, its difficult to grind it, so remove any roughage when using black cardamom for making spice blends.
  • Whole pods used during the cooking process can be easily removed from the dish before serving to avoid bitter bites.
  • If you do not want to use whole black cardamom seeds you can open the pod and grind the seeds into powder instead. Do keep in mind that it is the skin that emits the smoky woody aroma.

Black Cardamom Pods Benefits

Not only does this aromatic spice add flavour to your dishes there are many health benefits of cardamom as well:

Aids digestion – Black cardamom is rich in fibre which helps in digestion. A study has shown that chewing on black cardamom produces saliva which aids digestion and also kills harmful bacteria in the stomach.

Helps to eliminate respiratory problems – Black cardamom is known as a remedy for respiratory problems such as whooping cough, asthma. chest infection. The warming effect of the spices helps to cure cold and coughs by alleviating the mucous membrane and normalising the flow of mucus through the respiratory tract.

Helps to detoxify the body –  Black cardamom is said to help flush out toxins from our body and maintain a healthy system.

Improves immune system – Apart from being a detoxifier, black cardamom also contains high level of Vitamin C, antibacterial and antiviral properties, which is very good for building a healthy immune system.

Maintains good oral hygiene  – Because of the anti-bacterial properties present in black cardamom, it aids in maintaining a good oral health. Chewing of black cardamom kills bacteria present in the mouth, which is the main cause of bad breath and keep our tongue and gums clean.

Stress reliever  -Cardamom pods have powerful oils which have a calming effect on our body. The oil is highly anaesthetic and sedative and improves blood circulation. This helps in preventing tension headaches. The essential oils is known to help in eliminating stress and fatigue and other aches and pains.

What Foods Go Best With Black Cardamom

Black Cardamom is used in many savory dishes and goes well with most whole grains, meats, fish, legumes, lentils, rice and other spices.

Best food pairing: cauliflower,  chicken, curry, egg, fish, ginger, lamb, lentils, peas, potatoes, rice, soups, stews, spinach, tomatoes, orange and red vegetables

Best spice pairing:  cumin seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, green cardamom, cinnamon,  cloves, coriander seeds, dry chillies, turmeric

Spice Substitute for Black Cardamom

Although an important spice, black cardamom can either be easily substituted with another spice or omitted from the dish. Best substitutes for black cardamom are:

Green cardamom (although lacks the smokiness), star anise, cinnamon and cloves.

Where To Buy Black Cardamom Pods

When it comes to choosing and buying black cardamom, its best to buy dark, elongated and not too large pods.

They tend to have a stronger flavour and better roughage.

It may be difficult to find black cardamom in your regular grocery store or supermarket.

However, you can buy them easily from any Indian grocery, a health food store or an online store.

You can choose to buy them in a jar, a tin or a pack.

If buying loose, make sure that you store them correctly.

Discover the world of flavors at TheSpiceHouse.com.

The spice house have a collection of many international spices and blends that you can buy directly online.

Click image to buy black cardamom pods online

How To Store Black Cardamom

As with all spices store black cardamom in an opaque airtight container away from direct light or heat.

It is best not to add this spice with other whole spices such as green cardamom. They are two different spices with different flavour profiles.

If stored well, the spice will keep its character and flavour for almost a year.

Infographic On Black Cardamom Uses and Benefits

What is black cardamom infographic

Easy Recipes To Try

Warli Style Indian Lamb Curry 

Indian Spice Tea 

Pho bac ( Vietnamese Soup) 

Learn To Cook Indian Food

Do you find cooking Indian food challenging and wish to learn the simplified way to add spices into your everyday cooking?

Join a fully interactive online Indian cooking class that demystifies spices and makes Indian cooking easy and fun from the comfort of your home.

Buy Spices and Ingredients Online

Avail the convenience to get a range of spices, special ingredients and regular grocery delivered straight to your door without any hassle.

Worlwide Delivey –  British Corner Shop, the official partners of Waitrose UK with economic worldwide delivery

US Spice Store – Get black cardamom pods and other spices delivered directly to you when you order online from The Spice House.

Your Views and Recipes 

Please do leave your comment if you think I may have missed out on something.

I love to hear your kitchen adventures so please share any recipes made with Black Cardamom that you love.

And as always if you think this article deserves more eyes then please do share by clicking the share and/or save buttons.

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6 years ago

Wow.! I had no idea the black cardomon had so many benefits. Thanks so much for sharing this great post.

6 years ago

Wow! Interesting post, I learned something new today. I love cauliflower so I’ll try to season it with Black Cardamom.

tachira wiltshire
6 years ago

I have never used black cardamom but I love how you outlined all of the benefits and uses of it . I can’t wait to add it to my spice collection and would really love to try some Indian food . I love trying new foods 🙂

6 years ago

Wow! I didn’t realize how many different kinds of cardamom there are! I actually never even knew what it looked like! Thanks for the info!!

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