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Cardamom - Acquired taste? Or is a spice that is either loved or hated?

I just ate something with cardamom in it and it tasted like perfume. Coincidentally, I did have perfume in the same shopping bag. I double checked and the wrapper was sealed and the perfume did not leak. So is it me or does/can cardamom taste like perfume. This is my second run in with it and I am still on the fence.

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  1. Yes and yes. It is an unusual spice and different from what is often encountered, that perfume is part of it.
    The first time I encountered cardamom was at an Indian restaurant, it was whole in my dish and I bit down on it just as I swallowed. The intensity of the flavor and essence hit caused an immediate nose bleed. Powerful stuff. I like it. For some it may be an instant like or dislike, for others, because it is a new and different taste, take some getting to know.

    I think it is sorta like cilantro was 15-20 years ago. And now you find that stuff in everything!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Quine

      Jeez, that sounds terrible. I have never been to an Indian restaurant but now I will know what to be on the look out for. I am not totally off it yet but I thought I was cracking up when it tasted like what I would imagine Chanel No.5 would taste like.

    2. The perfume may smell like cardamom, but cardamom does not smell like perfume.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jaykayen

        OP said it "tasted" like perfume..and i've heard that more than once. i personally adore cardamom when used properly, but even i find the floral notes too powerful sometimes, particularly in the pre-ground bottled stuff.

        1. re: jaykayen

          The taster perceived it tasted like perfume, and that is all one can know. Does it not taste like that to you, how can the OP know. Cilantro is often described as tasting like soap by first timers, does it actually?
          Yes cardamom has a resiny, spicy flavor and aroma. It is often used in fragrances. If a person first comes into contact with cardamom in a fragrance, then the first actual taste will probably remind them of that.

        2. Put three or four into the water or stock you next cook basmati rice in. Adds a subtle dimension, and makes the kitchen smell good.

          1 Reply
          1. Cardamom does have a strong flavor and scent, particularly when used fresh ground or crushed from the pod. I really enjoy the flavor, especially in baked goods with walnuts or almonds, apples or many different kinds of berries, raspberries and cranberries are well complemented. It's great in rice pilafs, or other grain dishes served warm. But, you do need to use it judiciously, because it can overwhelm other flavors.

            1 Reply
            1. re: amyzan

              I adore cardamom but never buy it ground.

            2. I like both the fragrance and the taste, but I do tie crushed pods in cheesecloth so that guest won't bite down on whole cardamom. I use both white and black cardamom (do lots of Indian cooking, too).

              1. Also on the fence. I think it smells like soap and since soap making is my new hobby, going to try making a batch with lime oil and ground cardamom. Had cardamom cookies which are ok. Chai is not my thing, consider it too sweet. Rather have a cup of Assam with honey.

                1. Indians traditionally use it along with cinnamon and cloves (the three Cs) as these flavors mesh very well together.

                  It's also a great addition to coffee.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: arktos

                    The first time I tasted cardamom somebody had put a bunch of it into coffee and blindsided me with it. I was not amused. One day I may try it again, knowing what i'm tasting ahead of time.
                    The OP described something i've actually experienced, by the way. Cardamom as perfume.

                  2. It is used in some Scandinavian baked goods.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: paulj

                      Indeed. I adore cardamom. I am sure this will sound strange, but sometimes I have such a craving that I go and sniff the spice tin that I keep it in.

                      Had a fabulous cardamom ice cream at Aldea in New York a couple of months ago.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        ha! only on CH will you hear a confession like that. but please limit the behavior to inhalation of the aroma only, because if you start snorting the stuff we'll have to stage an intervention ;)

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I do the same thing with Kashmiri saffron!

                          1. re: pine time

                            Tell me more about Kashmiri saffron - never heard of it.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              it's darker and more potent than the saffron from other countries. unfortunately it's also often adulterated/cut with lower quality product, so pure Kashmiri saffron is hard to find and extremely expensive...and saffron ain't cheap to begin with!

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                GHG is right--true Kashmiri is hard to find. I have chow relatives in India who stockpile it for me.

                        2. re: MMRuth

                          There is a 'spice' that I feel the same way about. Asafoetida (hing). It turns on my salivary glands.

                          Mentioning the three "C"'s above, I cannot stand cloves. When a recipe calls for three, I will add only 1.

                      2. I think the dish may have been overdone with cardamom. I find a little goes along way and if used with constraint it definitely adds that extra layer of flavoring to a dish. The same for allspice. I have ruined more than one dish with "an extra dab with do ya". As for cilantro...just typing the word leaves a foul taste in my mouth.

                        1. Wow, not a huge amount of love here for cardamom -- and I was also surprised to see comparisons being made to cilantro. I use green cardamom in cooking, but sparingly. A little does go a long way. My favorite use for this great spice is in curries, but I will occasionally use some to flavor the basmati once in a while. The strangest thing I do with whole cardamom is I pop five or six pods in my mouth at one time and suck on them thus releasing the seeds. It's very much an acquired taste, but it works really well as a digestive aid and a breath freshener. I also always ask for an extra cardamom pod in my paan. Love the stuff.

                          1 Reply
                          1. The green variety can be very perfumey to my palate. I grew up with it as we are Indian and it is in many of our dishes - curries, rice dishes, desserts, drinks, etc.

                            The black variety actually tastes very different (kind of funky/smoky) and is basically never used in desserts, only savory applications.

                            Either way, it took me a LONG time to appreciate its flavor. Cardamom can be incredibly overpowering and as kids we always dreaded accidentally chomping down on the one whole cardamom pod floating around hidden in the rice, as it fills your whole mouth with its flavor and can linger in your mouth for so long. I like it now but as a kid, it was too much.

                            1. To really appreciate how cardamom can be used in a subtle and divine way, try this coffee cake. When I make it, I stir a pint of blueberries into the batter, so it is a "blueberry cardamom coffee cake." Also, I know a chef in NYC who was bragging about his dessert -- it was this same recipe. What he did, however, was bake it in a loaf pan, then served toasted slices, warm, with cinnamon ice cream. Yum.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: pitterpatter

                                Thanks for the link.

                                Green cardamom, of course?

                              2. I agree with others-cardamom can be very overpowering if you have to much. I absolutely adore it, but at the same time, too much cardamom is one of the few thing that can render a dish inedible to me. It might be that you just don't like it, which there's nothing wrong with, but you might also be sure that you have it in an amount that you like.

                                1. Years ago I worked with someone from Nepal. One afternoon during a break I noticed that he was snacking on something & I asked him what he was chewing. It was whole cardimom pods. Always curious I tried it out and have kept the occasional habit for twenty years, it really clears the sinus'.

                                  1. Like any spice, there are recipes that can use cardamom subtly to add some fragrance to a dish as well as other recipes that are aggressive. I grew up eating cardamom in my father's cooking and thought I detested it, particularly in dishes where he'd leave whole cardamom pods I might actually bite into. And yet I didn't realize powdered cardamom was also the perfume that made some of my favorite sweets so addictive. How strongly cardamom hits you depends on how it's being used -- if you want to avoid the aggression, let whole pods perfume your dish, but remove them before serving.