Add the sweet aromatic flavor of cardamom to your soup, cake, pudding, curry or morning porridge.
In this article you will learn how and why to start working with it in the kitchen. What are its biggest health benefits and how is it used in other cultures.
What is Cardamom?
Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. Cardamom is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes. It is widely used in Indian, Middle Eastern, Arabic and Swedish cuisine.
It is used either whole as pods, its seeds or as a ground spice. Cardamom is found in garam masala, a spice blend used to flavor meat and vegetable dishes, and in hot drinks such as masala chai and Turkish coffee.
Cardamom pods are spindle-shaped and have a triangular cross-section. The seeds are small and black, while the pods vary in color and size depending on the species.
Types of cardamom
There are two main types of cardamom: black cardamom and green cardamom, but there is also white cardamom, which is a bleached version of green cardamom.
Green cardamom is known as true cardamom. This is the most common variety you will see sold in the supermarket. It is the best choice for sweet dishes, but it also goes well with savory dishes.
The bleached version, white cardamom , contains less flavor and is grown in tropical regions including India, Malaysia and Costa Rica.
Black cardamom has larger pods that are dark brown. It has a smoky flavor that makes it more suitable for savory dishes, but in South India it is also added to sweet dishes. It is grown in the eastern Himalayas.
What does cardamom taste and smell like?
Green cardamom has a strong, sweet, pungent flavor and aroma with hints of lemon and mint.
Black cardamom has a smoky note and we also smell menthol.
Health benefits of cardamom
Cardamom seed oil may be able to kill bacteria and fungi. The antibacterial activity of the oil can be to cause damage to the cell wall of certain bacteria.
A healthy heart
The results of studies suggest that cardamom could help protect against heart attacks. Antioxidant effects could help improve heart function. Another study found that cardamom oil can help improve cholesterol levels.
A healthy oral cavity
Cardamom can help balance the pH in the mouth. Cardamom can help fight bacteria in the mouth, which is a common cause of bad breath, sinus and gum disease.
A healthy liver
In Ayurvedic medicine, people use cardamom for its detoxifying properties. Cardamom has certain beneficial effects on the liver, which plays a key role in removing toxins from the body.
Cardamom contains natural phytochemicals that may be able to fight diseases such as cancer. It cannot replace cancer treatment, but some studies suggest that the spice could have positive properties in the fight against cancer.
Prevention of ulcers
Like ginger, the relative cardamom helps with indigestion. Some people use the spice to make a stomach-soothing tea. It may also be helpful in protecting the stomach from ulcers.
Nutritional values of cardamom (per 100 g)
|Calorie||Carbohydrates||Fats||Saturated fatty acids||Proteins||Fiber||Salt|
|311 kcal||68 g||7 g||0.7 g||11 g||28 g||18 mg|
Vitamin and mineral content (per 100 g)
|64.9 mg||22.2 mg||0.81 mg||13.3 mg||10.3 mg|
What is cardamom used for?
|Cardamom is found in both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. In Indian recipes, whole cardamom pods are used in the preparation of basmati rice and these various curry variants . In Middle Eastern recipes, ground cardamom spices up certain desserts.|
|Fry the green cardamom pods in a dry pan for a few minutes. Let them cool for a minute and then remove the seeds from the pods. For the best flavor results, crush the seeds in a mortar or spice grinder. Save the pods to add to coffee or tea for flavor.|
|You can use green cardamom in coffee, simply grind three to four cardamom seeds together with coffee beans and pour hot water. Other hot drinks such as mulled wine, hot cider or eggnog also benefit from a pinch of cardamom.|
|Cardamom can perfectly complement this cold drink called affogato , see how to prepare and enjoy it.|
|Cardamom is used to spice up everything from baked goods to hamburgers.|
|Cardamom goes well with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add it along with other spices to these recipes for sweet rice porridge or to this Middle Eastern baklava , for which this spice is typical.|
Tips for recipes with cardamom
- Apple pie
- Stone fruit tartlet
- Sweet buns
- Basmati rice
- Marinades for meat such as lamb
What to replace cardamom with?
It will be hard to find a true substitute for the unique flavor of cardamom, but you can try mixing in other warm spices to replace it.
Cinnamon will be the key, and the best combination will be equal parts ground cinnamon and nutmeg. If you don’t have nutmeg, use ground ginger or ground cloves along with the cinnamon.
How to store cardamom?
Cardamom is best stored as whole pods in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Ground cardamom can be stored similarly but loses flavor and aroma quickly and should be used as soon as possible.