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Used ground or whole, in both sweet and savory recipes, cardamom is used in cuisines around the world from the Nordic countries to India and the Middle East. This warming and highly aromatic spice is used in a variety of savory dishes, desserts and even beverages.
Taste: Warm, sweet
Most Popular Use: Baked goods, stews, curries
Cardamom starts out life as the seedpod of a plant in the ginger family. There are two main kinds of cardamom: malabar and mysore. Malabar tends to have a delicate and floral flavor, while mysore tastes more pine-like and woodsy.
In general, cardamom is considered a warming spice like cinnamon and nutmeg, and is valued as much for its fragrance as its flavor.
This aromatic spice is native to India, and is also grown in Asia and South America. Cardamom can be purchased in the pod or ground, and while the latter doesn’t have as much of a full flavor it can be more convenient to work with.
Cardamom is used extensively in Indian cuisine, where it shows up in savory dishes, desserts, and even beverages. It also shows up in Middle Eastern cooking, particularly as an ingredient in coffee. Cardamom is also one of the main spices in a lot of Scandinavian baked goods. You’ll often find cardamom used in combination with other spices like cinnamon and clove or in savory spice mixes like garam masala.
We like using whole pods of cardamom to give subtle seasoning to pots of rice and braised meat dishes, much like we would use bay leaf. If you crush the pods before throwing them in the pot, more of their flavor will be extracted.
When it comes to cakes, breads, and pastries, we usually opt for pre-ground cardamom. The flavor is less potent, but cracking open the pods, scraping out the seeds, and grinding them up can be a pain when we need more than a pinch of the spice.
Recipes for Cooking with Cardamom