Let’s know about Cardamom

Did you know that after saffron and vanilla, cardamom is the third most precious spice in the world? Cardamom is derived from the Latin term ‘cardamomum’, and it is popularly known in India as Elaichi (e-lahi-chee).It is a spice which is used in many cuisines, both in sweet and savoury cooking, all over the world.

Guatemala and Sri Lanka are one of the top producers of this spice. It is produced in the southern parts of India, majorly in Kerala and Karnataka.

There are two varieties of cardamom.

  • Green cardamom
  • Black cardamom

What is Green Cardamom? How is it used?

Green cardamom is known as True Cardamom. It is the most common variety which can be used in various cuisines. It can be used in three different ways – whole, lightly crushed with pods, and only seeds. It is a spice that quickly overpowers the other ingredients, therefore it should be gradually added to any dish. The flavor of cardamom pairs well with oranges, rice, poultry, red meat, and other warm spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. Also, it perfectly fits in with curries, sausages, teas, and baked goods, like cupcakes, bread, cakes, cookies, and others.

It even pairs well along with cassia bark and cloves, which are essential ingredients of ‘whole spice garam masala’ that are used to impart flavoursto Indian dishes. Almost all Indian desserts use this spice, be it GulabJamun, Rasmalai, Kheer, etc.

What isBlack Cardamom? How is it used?

It is an earthy, floral spice fire-dried for a concentrated flavour and smoky aroma. The whole black cardamom is used in many of the cuisine’s signature dishes. The seeds of black cardamom are used to make a classic garam masala(spice), as this particular spice helps to infuse smoky flavor into the spice mix.

Black cardamom pods can be used to add a smoky taste to chowders, casseroles, marinades, and soups.It also fits well with ginger fig chutney, cakes, rice puddings, and various other dishes. Though, this particular ingredient should be used carefully because of its intense flavour and should be added in a small portion.

Differences between the two varieties

Green and black cardamom vary in appearance, flavours, and size.

  • Green cardamom pods are smaller, whereas black cardamom pods are larger.
  • The black cardamom has a strong, unsubtle, and smoky flavor, whereas green cardamom has a mild, sweet-spicy flavor.
  • The taste of black cardamom almost verges on the higher side in comparison to the green cardamom.
  • Green cardamom is used to enhance the flavour of desserts and as a masala (spice/seasoning) in dishes, whereas black cardamom is solely used as a masala (spice/seasoning) due to its strong flavour.

Both the varieties have their benefits.

A quick tip, cardamom should always be purchased as a complete pod as it contains several essential oils that evaporate quickly naturally.

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