How To Use Cardamom Pods In Cooking
Known as the queen of Indian spices, this aromatic citrusy green cardamom pods bring a magical essence to any dish it is added to. Learn how to use cardamom pods to immediately transform your dish.
Using green cardamom pods in cooking is one of the easiest ways to lift flavours instantaneously. The complex flavours, different forms and ease of use makes green cardamom one of the most aromatic and exquisite spices, undoubtedly my favourite.
Known as the ‘queen of spices’ and the second most expensive spice, after saffron, you know you are dealing with something amazing here.
Used in multiple ways read on to find what is cardamom used for, how to use cardamom, different forms of cardamom that is cardamom seeds vs powder and the benefits of cooking with cardamom pods.
What Is Cardamom
It may surprise you to know that cardamom belongs to the ginger family. Cardamom spice comes from pods of the plant. The pods are shaped in the form of a small rugby ball.
Each green cardamom pod contains a row of small black seeds that can be removed and ground to powder.
It is the seeds that contain the aroma and flavour.
Green cardamom usage in food is common in Indian, Middle Eastern and Scandinavian countries.
The initial production of green cardamom pods was in Southern India, however, they are now popularly grown in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Guatemala to name a few countries.
There are 3 forms of cardamom that is used for cooking purposes. These are:
1. Cardamom pods – These are the whole cardamom pods with seeds inside it.
2. Cardamom powder – This is the ground form, where the cardamom seeds are ground into powder.
3. Cardamom seeds – As the name suggests these are the whole seeds of the pods.
You can also view this short video on what is green cardamom pods.
Types Of Cardamom
Apart from the different forms there are also different varieties of cardamom. Interestingly none of the varieties have similar flavours. They all taste different and used to make different dishes. There are three different kinds of cardamoms used for cooking. These are:
1. Green cardamom – Fresh aromatic green pale bright green in colour.
2. Black cardamom – This is larger and smokier cardamom variety.
3. White cardamom – It is the most inferior type of cardamom. It is pale green almost white in colour with pretty mellow flavours as such it happens to be the cheapest of the 3 types of cardamom that you can buy. You must be careful while buying cardamom as few retailers pass white cardamom as green since they look similar but have different colours and taste.
English – Green Cardamom pods
Green cardamom in Hindi -Elaichi or choti elaichi
Green cardamom in German – Kardamom
Green cardamom in French – Cardamome
Green cardamom in Spanish – Cardamomo
What Does Green Cardamom Taste Like?
Green cardamom is a highly aromatic spice. It has a strong, unique spicy-sweet taste which instantly lifts the flavour of the dishes it is used in.
It has a fresh citrusy, minty flavour with hints of eucalyptus.
Depending on the type or quality of cardamom you use, it has a semi-mild to strong flavour which becomes more pronounced when used in larger quantity.
You will be able to smell and taste the spice in a dish due to the heightened aroma and unique fresh flavours.
How To Use Green Cardamon Pods For Cooking?
As mentioned before, there are 3 forms of green cardamom that can be commercially bought in supermarkets.
- Green cardamom pods
- Cardamom seeds
- Ground cardamom or cardamom powder.
Depending on the type of cardamom you buy or have the cardamom uses for cooking may also differentiate.
Whichever cardamom variety you use, the versatility and aromatic taste of the spice makes it an ideal spice to add to both savoury and sweet dishes.
Below are cooking suggestions on how to use cardamom for making different types of dishes.
Use of whole cardamom pods
Whole cardamom pods are perhaps the most mildest of the 3 types of cardamom used for cooking.
How to use whole pods – Green cardamom pods are used whole in oil or warm liquid such as broth or soups.
They are added right at the beginning of the cooking process to infuse the dish with a pleasant aromatic flavour.
You can easily remove the pods from the dish before serving if you do not wish to have a whole pod in your mouth.
Cooking use ideas :
- Add whole cardamom pods to rice dishes, or whole grains such as lentils, tabbouleh, couscous etc.
- Add to curries, stews, broths or any sauce based dish.
- Use with other whole spices for tempering or flavouring oil.
Use of cardamom seeds
The 2nd type of green cardamom are the once you can buy in seeds form. It is the seeds that contains the maximum fragrant oil that lends the spice the aroma.
How to use cardamom seeds – The use of the cardamom seeds is similar to that of the pods, that is it can be used at the beginning of cooking to a hot liquid be it oil or any other liquid.
The difference between cardamon seeds vs pods is that, in a whole cardamom the seeds are inside the pods which makes them mild to taste unless the pods are cracked open to reveal the seeds.
While the seeds are the individual seeds similar to say any spice seeds without the covering.
Few points to note when cooking with cardamom seeds are that since the seeds are not very tiny they may come into your mouth if not crushed smaller.
The other point is that the seeds tend to loose their fragrance and potency slightly faster as they are already exposed and outside the pod.
- Add cardamom seeds in rice dishes, legumes or whole grains based dishes such as lentils, beans, tabbouleh, couscous etc.
- Lightly crush the seeds and add them to bakes such as cakes and biscuits.
- Add crushed seeds to drinks such as milk, shakes, teas.
Use of cardamom powder
Most find using cardamom powder convenient and easy to use for cooking as well for baking. It is important to note that since it is a ground form of spice it will also start to loose the freshness of the aroma quickly if not stored properly.
How to use cardamom seeds – If you are have ground cardamom or green cardamom powder then the ideal way to get most of the flavour is to add it during or in the middle of the cooking process.
A small pinch or two of green cardamom powder goes a long way so you do not need a lot of it.
Cooking use ideas :
- Add cardamom powder to smoothies, soups, stir-fries, oatmeal, pancakes etc.
- Add to cakes, drinks or desserts.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon powder to curries and gravy based dishes.
- You can also sprinkle some powder on stir fries and roasts if you wish.
How To Grind Whole Cardamom Pods
My recommendation for buying green cardamom is to get them in the whole form. That way they retain the flavour and freshness for much longer.
If you have cardamom pods you can split open the pods and grind them to powder in a mortar and pestle while discarding the green outer cover.
The neutral flavoured green papery cover grinds well too, although it does leave a roughage. I do not bother discarding it but use the whole pod with the cover and grind it into powder.
Depending on the type of dish you are making, you can discard the green covering.
The other option is to use it whole with the seeds intact or only the cardamom seeds.
It adds to the aroma of the dish.
Check out this video on how to grind cardamom pods.
Difference Between Green Cardamom and Black Cardamom
Another cardamom that is extensively used in Indian cuisine is Black cardamom pods sometimes also referred to as brown cardamom.
Although they are called cardamom, green and black cardamom are completely different in appearance, in taste and in some way cooking use too.
You can read all about the difference between green cardamom and black cardamom here.
Benefits of Green Cardamom
Like most spices, adding these small cardamom pods does not only add flavour but has other health benefits too.
I have highlighted the top benefits of using Green Cardamom to everyday cooking, but there are many more advantages.
Aids digestion and counteract flatulence
Cardamom is good for curing stomach problems like indigestion, gas and constipation. The strong aroma enables the secretion of enzymes effective for digestion especially if consumed after heavy meals.
Prevents bad breath
Munching on cardamom helps fights bacteria that cause bad breath. The strong floral sweet aroma of green cardamon is a natural breath freshener.
Green cardamom has diuretic properties. It helps clean out the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys, removing waste, salt, excess water and toxins from the body.
Assists in Weight Loss
Green cardamom is a fibrous spice. It helps boosts energy metabolism and burn more body fat efficiently.
Where and How to Buy Green Cardamom?
Since it is a common and a popular spice, you can buy green cardamon from any supermarket.
I would recommend buying the spice whole and use a mortar and pestle to ground it into powder when needed.
But of course there is no harm in buying green cardamom powder.
Look for small and bright green cardamoms. They have a fresh and stronger flavour compared to the pale once.
Since it is an aromatic spice it needs to be well stored in an airtight container away from light and heat.
If stored correctly green cardamoms will retain its properties for almost a year.
You can also buy them from my recommended online store for fresh aromatic cardamom pods, seeds and powder
Best Food and Spice matching
Cardamom is a sweet spice which means that it combines well with almost any spice.
Best food pairing: Rice, legumes, lentils, all vegetables, red meat, chicken, marinades, soups, stews and curries
Best spice pairing: Cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, black cardamom
Best Green Cardamom Substitute?
Being an aromatic spice, it can be substituted with other aromatic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, or even kafir lime leaves.