I’m back to talk all about another spice, and in this month’s Spice Guide: Cardamom we will explore its history, flavour profile, how to use it and what to match it with! I’d love to hear how you use cardamom in your kitchen too!
History of Cardamom
Cardamom is native to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal, and was introduced to Guatemala at the start of the 20th century, which is now one of the largest exporters of the spice. It’s had a varied use over the years, with the Egyptians chewing it as a tooth-cleaner and the Greeks and Romans using it as perfume.
There are two main types of cardamom – green cardamom which is grown predominantly in India and black cardamom (also known as brown or larger cardamom) which is predominantly grown in Nepal and surrounding countries.
Cardamom’s Flavour Profile
Cardamom has a strong, warm scent and a unique flavour. It has lemon undertones, with the black variety more smokey, with a pronounced eucalyptus or menthol-like flavour.
Both the green and black varieties are used in cooking, and can be purchased either as whole or split pods, or loose or ground seeds. The ground seeds can lose flavour fairly quickly, so where possible choose pods or loose seeds and grind them as required (or use them whole). The green variety is one of the most expensive spices in the world, but only a little is required to provide flavour to a dish.
Unsurprisingly cardamom is used heavily in Indian cuisine, as well as Nepalese and Indonesian food. It is a key ingredient in curries, rice dishes and masalas, as well as teas and Indian sweets. Cardamom is also common in Scandinavian baking such as sweet breads, pastries and biscuits.
It is also commonly used in pickles, mulled wines, with lentils and other pulses, as well as with meat, poultry and shellfish. It’s an excellent addition to preserved lemons and poached fruits, as well as paired with apples, bananas, pears, chocolate, coffee, caramel, coconut, pumpkin, yams and most nuts.
Common Spice Pairings
The spices that cardamom is best paired with include:
One of the best ways to use cardamom is in a spice mix, so here is an easy dry-spice recipe that you can add to onion, garlic and ginger to make the base of a delicious curry! This makes enough spice mix for 2 or 3 curries, so just pop the rest in an airtight container until you need it!
- 3 bay leaves
- 2tsp cloves
- 3 cardamom
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1tbs cumin seeds
- 3tbs coriander seeds
- 2tsp peppercorns
Simply grind together all ingredients in a spice grinder and use!