Known as the queen of spices, Cardamom is the third most expensive spice in the world. It comes from the same family as ginger. Cardamom is a native of the Indian sub-continent. The spice is made from the seeds of plants of species Elettaria and Amomum. The small seeds are inside a triangular pod. Each pod will contain 15 to 20 tiny black or brown seeds.

Cardamom is a widely used spice in Indian and middle-eastern cooking. Lots of Scandinavian baking recipes also feature cardamom as a main component. The rich aroma that the cardamom brings in is the reason it is used as a flavouring agent in cooking. It is also used for extracting essential oils for therapeutic uses and in perfumery.


Language Name Pronunciation
English Cardamom ˈkärdəməm
Hindi इलायची Elaichi
Tamil ஏலக்காய் Elakkai
Arabic حب الهال Hubb Alhal
Spanish Cardamomo


Available throughout the year in any supermarket, grocery shop or spice store as whole or grounded powder.

Selecting the Spice:

nutmeg-390318_1920 cardamom-2251874_1920 cardomom_pods
Green Cardamom Black Cardamom White Cardamom

There are 3 varieties of cardamom which are green, dark brown (known as black cardamom in culinary world) and white cardamom which is simply green cardamom bleached. Cardamom is a powerful spice. One has to choose the right variety to get the desired flavour to the dish. Substituting one variety with other in the recipes may not be a good idea. Also, be careful to use the spice sparingly and as required by the recipe. Other-wise the flavour can be overpowering.

Black cardamom has a rather smoky flavour and is used in spicy or meat dishes. The skin of the pods is thicker and the pods as bigger than the green variety. Green cardamom is more subtle in aroma and is an exotic ingredient for sweet dishes and desserts.

The white cardamom is used in dishes where the flavour of the green cardamom is needed but do not want to bring in the green distinct colour in the dish.

How to Store:

Cardamom pods should be stored in airtight containers way from direct sunlight in a cool place. Exposed seeds quickly lose flavour. You may want to buy the cardamom pods as whole. Powdered cardamom has a very low shelf-life. Also, as with any spice, it is best to use freshly grounded powder.

How to Use:

Whole pods are useful for cooking dishes with gravy or when cardamom is used for infusing flavour like rice or beverages. Powdered cardamom is used recipes where pods are not desirable for e.g. baking, sprinkling as flavouring in ice-creams and beverages.

Culinary Uses:

Can be used as whole, crushed or in powder form. While making cardamom powder only seeds are grounded avoiding the husk.

  • Flavouring teas especially herbal teas, masala chai, etc.
  • Used as a marinade for fish and meat.
  • Famous Turkish coffee is made using cardamom as flavouring.
  • Can be used as a dry rub for meat.
  • Used in sauces.
  • Flavouring rice, biryani etc.
  • Flavouring curries and stews.
  • Used in baking.
  • Infusing various flavoured drinks and soft drinks.
  • Cardamom is an indispensable ingredient in the famous Indian ‘Garam Masala’ powder.
  • Making cardamom bread, cookies and cakes.
  • Used for mulling wine.

Medical Value

  • Cardamom helps to improve digestion.
  • Cardamom seeds can be chewed as breath fresheners.
  • Cardamom is also used to treat mouth ulcers and infections in mouth and throat.
  • The spice is rich in anti-oxidants which help to detoxify your body.
  • Cardamom is believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
  • Daily intake of cardamom promotes cardiovascular health.
  • Cardamom is used in the treatment of asthma.

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