Cardamom has a distinct flavour and an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. Black cardamom has a more smoky, but not bitter, aroma, as well as a coolness that some compare to mint.
Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight, but only a small amount is required to impart flavour. It is best stored in the pod because exposed or ground seeds lose flavour quickly. The quality and price are both reduced when the pods and seeds are ground together. For recipes that call for whole cardamom pods, a general rule of thumb is that 10 pods equal 12 teaspoons ground cardamom.
The role of cardamom in Indian cuisine
Cardamom is a popular spice in Indian cuisine. It’s also popular in Nordic baking, particularly in Sweden, Norway, and Finland, where it’s used in traditional treats like the Scandinavian Yule bread Julekake, the Swedish kardemummabullar sweet bun, and the Finnish sweet bread pulla. Green cardamom powder is used as a spice in sweet dishes as well as a traditional flavouring in coffee and tea in the Middle East. Cardamom is commonly used in savoury dishes. Coffee and cardamom are frequently ground in a wooden mortar, a mihbaj, and cooked together in a skillet, a mehmas, over wood or gas to produce mixtures containing up to 40% cardamom.
Both types of cardamom are widely used in both sweet and savoury dishes throughout Asia, particularly in the south. Both are common ingredients in spice blends such as Indian and Nepali masalas, as well as Thai curry pastes. Green cardamom is commonly used in Indian sweets and masala chai (spiced tea). Both are popular garnishes for basmati rice and other dishes. Individual seeds are sometimes chewed and used similarly to chewing gum. Wrigley uses it in its Eclipse Breeze Exotic Mint product packaging, which states that it contains “cardamom to neutralise the toughest breath odours.” Aromatic bitters, gin, and herbal teas all contain it.
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