There are different types of cardamoms, each with their own unique characteristic flavour and cooking uses. This post clarifies the difference between Green VS Black cardamom so that you can use them correctly when cooking.
Cardamom also known as ‘Elaichi’ in Hindi are of two types, green and black cardamoms. Both extensively used in Indian cooking. So what is the difference between black cardamom vs green when it comes to cooking, and can one be used as a substitute for the other?
It is green cardamom that is most popular and widely used across the world while the use of black cardamom is pertinent to the South Asian region.
Black cardamom is also referred to as brown cardamom due to the dark brown colour.
To complicate matters, there are in effect 3 types of cardamom varieties, white, green and black or brown.
Each of the three cardamom varieties has a different flavour, appearance and use in cooking.
In this post, we will highlight the difference between green and black cardamom breaking them into their taste profiles, appearance, origin and cooking uses.
What Is Cardamom ?
Before we get into setting out the differences, let us find out what is cardamom used for in cooking?
Cardamom is an aromatic spice that is derived from the pods of a plant. Surprisingly they are a close relative to turmeric and ginger spice.
Some may also be confused on whether to use cardamom seeds vs pods. The pods are cardamom spices in the whole from. It is the outer covering which covers the clusters of seeds inside. It is the seeds that retain most of the flavour of a cardamom spice.
You can buy cardamom in 3 different forms:
- Whole cardamom pods
- Cardamom seeds
- Ground cardamom powder
All types of cardamoms are used in food to add flavour.
All the 3 form of cardamom varieties are used to add flavour to dish.
The uses of cardamom in cooking regardless of the type that is white, green or black cardamom in also similar. While one type can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes , the other is mostly used in savoury foods.
This posts highlights the difference between green and black cardamom, which is set in the following sections.
Black Cardamom VS Green Cardamom
Although the two spices have similar names and are native to Southern India, the uses in particular dishes and flavour profiles of both spices are completely different.
Lets break them down into the different profiles :
Green cardamom also known as true cardamom comes from the plant species known as Elettaria cardamomum.
The pods are harvested before they reach their full maturity and hence retains the bright green colour that depicts the freshness and quality. Brighter the pods the better and more expensive it is.
Black cardamom comes from the Amomum subulatum plant which is grown in the Himalayan slopes of Sikkim and Nepal.
Unlike green cardamoms, they are harvested for a much longer time and are later dried in large fire pits which is what lends a different taste and smell.
It is very easy to see the difference between the two.
Brown or black cardamom is larger and dark brown in colour with a rough deep wrinkled covering.
Green cardamom are smaller with a smooth green cover.
All types of cardamoms are aromatic. While green cardamom has a fresh, citrusy, well rounded and balanced flavour.
Black cardamom in contrast is more intense and has a smoky woody undertone.
White cardamom has the least flavour being the inferior of the other two spices.
Although how you use cardamom for cooking is the same, the dish that you use them in may differ due to the difference in the cardamom taste.
You can read the post on how to use cardamom for cooking.
Green cardamoms can be used for making both sweet and savoury dishes. You can use powdered cardamom, whole green cardamom pods in your bakes and desserts such as biscuits, cakes, pies, pudding etc as well as in curries, stews, casseroles, lentils and rice dishes.
The smokey flavour of black cardamom pods make them more suitable when cooking savoury dishes. They work particularly well with meat, lentils, legumes and root vegetables.
It is a very popular spice in many South-East Asian cuisines especially Indian, Vietnamese and Thai.
Video Explaining the Difference
Here is a video that highlights the difference between black and green cardamom.
Is Black Cardamom Better Than Green?
Since both the types of cardamom have different flavour profiles, none is better than the other.
The ease of availability and flexibility of uses of green cardamom makes it a more popular spice when campared to black cardamom.
However, there is a marked difference of quality between green and white cardamom. White cardamom is the least flavourful of them all.
Can You Substitute Black Cardamom With Green?
Although both are cardamom types, you cannot use green cardamoms instead of black cardamom. You can however use both together in a dish but not as a substitute for one another due to the difference of cardamom taste.
Let us recap some of the key differences between black vs green cardamom.
Cardamoms are mainly of two types, green cardamom and black cardamom. Both used in whole pods or powdered form in cooking different types of dishes.
Green cardamom is smaller in size and as a citrusy fresh flavour, while black cardamom has an intense smoky flavour.
The uses of green cardamom in cooking is more versatile and popular and can be used both in sweet and savory dishes, black cardamom is ideal for savory dishes.
If you have not tried using green and black cardamom pods in cooking I would recommend to do so and enjoy the unique flavour of the pod spices.