CARDAMOM: THAT AROMATIC YET ELUSIVE SPICE

Nothing can compare to taking that first sip of coffee in the morning to get the body moving and the brain activated. Just smelling the coffee brewing is enough to pull you out of that warm bed. Now just imagine adding the aromatic flavor of green cardamom to that brew and that aroma is hypnotic. And for you tea drinkers, what would chai tea be without cardamom? It is a spice that can be used in savory and sweet dishes, and it is often used in spice blends. But what is cardamom and why is it so hard to find?

Green and Black Cardamom Pods:

There are different types of cardamom: red, bleached white, black, and green. Green is the most popular one. Cardamom pods are the dried fruit of a perennial bush grown in South India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tanzania, and Guatemala. Cardamom, because of its relatively small growing area and very laborious harvesting process, is limited in supply. Cardamom is harvested by hand, which takes place over several months, as the pods ripen at different times. It is related to the ginger family. Use cardamom sparingly, as the flavor can overwhelm a dish. The pods will keep for a year or more in an airtight container. In India, cardamom is called the “Queen of Spices.”

Green cardamom is used in its pod form, or as whole seeds, or is finely ground. It is popular as a staple in foods from many regions of the world, such as: Southeast Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Northern Europe. Each Green Cardamom Pod holds 5-12 seeds, and it takes about 10 pods to produce one teaspoon of ground cardamom. It has a lemony, floral, peppery, eucalyptus-like flavor profile. Green cardamom is used both in savory and sweet dishes.

Black cardamom is not true cardamom often called “the false cardamom”. The dried pods are dark brown and larger than green cardamom pods with a rough ribbed appearance. They are smoked longer, so they have a smokier, earthier, almost bacon-like flavor. It is used in pod, whole seed, or ground form. Black cardamom is often used in slow- cooked dishes, such as hearty curries and stews, braised meats, and vegetable dishes. It is not a substitute for green cardamom.

Two Recipes that Use Cardamom:

Cardamom Coffee is a staple is some cultures. In the Middle East, green cardamom is often added to a guest’s coffee as a sign of respect and hospitality. There are multiple ways of making it. However, knowing just getting up in the morning can be an ordeal, Spice For Life offers an Easy Cardamom Coffee recipe.  This recipe can be made in five minutes and is good hot or iced. You can also use your favorite type of coffee beans and method of brewing.

Aloo Gobi with Garam MasalaAloo Gobi is a vegan Indian / Pakistani potato and cauliflower dish. It is a very flavorful recipe with multiple spices.  One of the essential ingredients in Aloo Gobi is the spice blend, garam masala. Garam Masala is a common spice blend across the Indian subcontinent. Its ingredients vary by region and even by family. Our Garam Masala is not spicy and is salt free. Our blend uses both green and black cardamom to deepen the flavor. It wonderfully compliments this vegetable dish.

Perhaps now is the time to add some cardamom to your spice repertoire?

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