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Mar 18, 2007 03:04 PM

If recipe calls for black cardamom, and I've got green cardamom...?

... What will be the effect of using the green instead? (It's a cardamom cake.)

Put another way: Is it worth it to hunt down the black cardamom at a local store? And while we're at it, does anyone notice a huge difference between pre-ground and grind-it-yourself cardamom?

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  1. I only buy the whole green pods at an international grocery and give it a whirl in my spice grinder. I like the flavor and it is a whole lot less expensive than the bottled sruff from the grocery store.

    1. I do not know about the black or the green, buty Oh Yeah, worth to grind your own. I went to World Spice while I was in Seattle, and it was like a wonderland for the senses! Here's the link. It is really worth it in flavor to stay whole as much as you can.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Quine

        That looks like a wonderful store! (The link didn't work for me so I just went to

        1. re: Cinnamon

          TY! I tried to edit it to what you found, hope it works. Yes, a great shop, the staff was great, helpful and full of knowledge. I will definately be ordering from them online.

      2. Ground cardamom loses it's flavor and aroma quickly. It's always better to buy the pods and grind it yourself.

        I believe you could substitute green cardamom for black without any issues.

        And if you wouldn't mind, would you post your cake recipe?

        7 Replies
        1. re: QueenB

          black cardamom is suppossed to be quite different, and almost smoky. it's apparently used in African cuisines, versus the green and white cardamom found in Asia.

          i got some the other day from Penzy's spices, not sure what i'm going to use it for yet, but was intrigued by the smoky description. i was thinking of trying it in some chai first, as i often use lapsong souchsang for the black tea portion.

          i would love to see your cardamom cake recipe though.


          1. re: charlie_b

            According to an Indian grocery book, black is used more in savory dishes, green in both savory and sweet. I'm a little surprised that the recipe calls for black.

            I have both, and the black definitely has a stronger aroma. Black pods are much larger.


            1. re: charlie_b

              Yes, the Penzey's website says that black cardamom is more smoky than green. But it also says that in Indian cuisine, black cardamom has been used as a cheaper substitute for green. That's why I said I didn't think it would be an issue.

              Have you smelled the pods you got? Do they actually smell "smoky"? I'm very curious, as I've only purchased the green pods myself.

              1. re: QueenB

                I asked my wife what the bottle of black pods smelled like (without making any mention of this topic). 'BBQ or even more, jerky', was her immediate reply.

                1. re: paulj

                  Interesting...and I can't imagine using something like that for sweet baking.

              2. re: charlie_b

                I am not 100% sure of the origins, but I am pretty sure that black cardamon is more easily available in India and is mostly grown there, whereas in African cusines, the green variety is much more common. In Zanzibar and the rest of Tanzania, it is the gree stuff that is comonly used.

                My friend brough me back some of the black stuff from India to add to the green stuff I bought in Zanzibar. The black stuff is much smokier, the green almost lemony, but I am sure regular green is a reasonable substitute if you can't find anything else.

              3. re: QueenB

                QueenB- Thinking of making it Monday night - if it turns out any good, I'll post in in the next few days!

                Charlie_b- Thanks.

                ALL: On the west side of L.A. (in the MDR area), would Surfa's be the best bet for black cardamom, or any particular ethnic stores to mention?

              4. Bizarre,
                The cardamom I have, is very sweet and spicy - I put ground cardamom in palmiers that I make. I would not describe the black cardamom's as smoky at all. Wonder what the difference is...

                2 Replies
                1. re: lollya

                  What's the size of your cardamom pods? My green ones are less than half an inch long. The black are closer to an inch. The seeds of both (before grinding) are black.


                  1. re: paulj

                    hmmm, that might be the issue...i think i have the seeds alone!

                2. According to Wiki:

                  The two main genera of the ginger family that are named as forms of cardamom are distributed as follows:

                  * Elettaria (commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom) is distributed from India to Malaysia.
                  * Amomum (commonly known as black cardamom, brown cardamom, Kravan, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Siamese cardamom, white or red cardamom) is distributed mainly in Asia and Australia.

                  I had a cookie this summer in Zanzibar spiced with the green cardamom. I have to admit, never thought of it as a dessert spice before, but am totally hooked. I guess it is common in sweets in India.

                  My black cardamom has a totally different flavor and smell. The smokiness is one of the first things you smell.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MaggieMuffin

                    Green cardamom is wonderful in sweets, especially rice pudding. I've also made a green cardamom infused creme brulee which was outstanding. My next venture will be a cardamom and ginger scone I think. It's really a more versatile spice than I had first imagined.

                    1. re: QueenB

                      The last rice pudding that I made was flavored with cardamom, cinnamon (stick), ginger (a chunk of fresh), and key lime leaves. Also I used coconut milk along with some powdered milk.


                      1. re: paulj

                        Good stuff, especially with the coconut milk. I'll have to use that next time for sure.
                        I like to use crystallized ginger instead of the fresh. You get that chewy raisin-like texture, and the heat/spice of the ginger.