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Cardamom Plants
Raw Green Cardamom Pods

Cardamom, Green Cardamom or Elaichi is a sweet spice prized in Indian, Middle Eastern and Scandinavian cookery. Green cardamoms are different from black cardamoms. Cardamom is great in cakes and sweets, and savoury dishes where its sweet flavour works well against sourness and the umami of meats.

Cardamom pods are 10 mm (¼ inch) long pale green, oval and knobbly shaped cases that enclose around 10 small, browny-black, oily, pungent seeds. The best way to use them is to have whole cardamom pods but then to crush the pods, slightly cracking or tearing the casing, so you can see the seeds without them coming out; this releases the flavour as you cook with them. If you take out the seeds, you should them crush them in a pestle and mortar as they will look unsightly in your meal.

Cardamoms have a strong eucalyptus and camphorous aroma and have a refreshing taste that is sweet, spicy, warm and aromatic.

Green cardamom is essential to chai tea drinks, whether green or black, and delicious in coffee. Cardamoms offer a sensual flavour to rice whether for pilau or rice pudding. Try adding cardamom to the boiling water when making carrots as they complement the sweetness of carrots.

Cardamom's sweetness and pleasant pungency means it works well in baking for bread, pastries and spiced cakes. So cardamom will often be found in spice mixes for baking - lebkuchen mixes and stollen mix in Germany. Across India and the Middle East, cardamom is used to flavour sweets and puddings - in kulfi ice creams, kheer rice pudding.

Further reading

  • Hemphill, I., Hemphill, K. (2014) The Spice and Herb Bible, Robert Rose. ISBN: 9780778804932.
  • Norman, J. (2015) Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, DK Publishing. ISBN: 9781465435989.