Am I supposed to break up the cardamon pod? Am in the middle of a recipe. And secondarily, can you point me to recipes that use cardamon pods?
If you use the whole pod, you (or the diner) will have to fish it out at the end. It does not dissolve, and husk is not edible. If you crack it open, you can easily remove the seeds. The seeds will remain whole (and hard) if you do not grind them.
So if the Indian dish (such as rice) uses whole bits of cinnamon stick and whole cloves, then it makes sense to leave the cardamom whole as well. But if everything else is ground, grind the cardamom as well. My guess is that the flavor from the freshly ground seeds is stronger than from the whole pods, but I haven't actually tested that.
re: sarah galvin
If you crush the pod, you will be picking cardamom seeds and bits of the husk (or whatever it's called) out of your teeth throughout the meal. Consider cooking with chili peppers. You can either cook them whole, as in kung pao, and not eat them (unless you're into that sort of pain), or grind them up and use them as any other powdered spice, as in curry. Me, I use both whole and ground cardamom. But crushed? No way.
Discussed this last year with spice importer extraordinare and owner of Épices de cru -- www.epicesdecru.com/fr/index.php (in French only for now) -- Philippe de Vienne. His astounding Ethiopian berbere spice blend includes, among many other spices, whole green cardamom pods. I'd always been told that only the seeds, not the hulls, should be ground, so I asked him how to handle the pods in the blend. He was aghast that anyone would not grind the entire pod, as the hulls contain many essential oils. Now, we were talking about green cardamom and he did concede that bleached hulls from Scandinavian-style cardamom might not add much, if anything. And I didn't raise the subject of black cardamom. But ever since, whether whole, crushed or ground, its hulls and all for me.
there are "black" cardamom pods and white or "green" ones.
put in whole to your dish (slightly crushed) if a pod or two is called for. usually, there are no more than 3 pods in a dish. i've never recycled the pods to use the seeds inside, once i've used the pod in a dish. i'm pretty thrifty, but they are cheap (unless the spice purveyor is mccormick, at some exorbitant grocery store-little-glass-jar-price.) indian shops and online sources are cheapest, esp. if you plan on lots of indian cooking.
grinding husk and all? i don't believe indians do that (and defintely i think not in the traditional "royal cookery"). i'm not sure there is a whole lot of flavor in the husk -- even a green one. maybe i've never had it uber-fresh, for sure. husks could lend some fiber-y mouthfeel if too many are used.
seeds should be toasted and ground if "cardamom" is called for (*tip off, a teaspoon is the measure....)
for alkapal's chocolate sour cream pound cake with spices (including the heavenly cardamom) and frangelico: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47718...
as an aside, all these years, and i've just learned cardamom is a member of the ginger family! makes sense with the intense aromatics, but from the seeds and not the root! go figure. i love them both.