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Oct 1, 2011 01:42 PM

Working with Cardamom Seeds and Pods: Help!!!

Even the excellent spice books , Spice and Herb Bible and Herbs and Spices, have no compassion/ prep tips for the home cook working with cardamom pods and seeds. I loooove cardamom. I add it to my caramels, nut toffee, cookies, brownies, truffles, ginger syrup, etc etc.I started out using ground cardamom but quickly realized it just doesn't have enough flavor. Even with freshly ground(by me) green cardamom, I need 2 1/2 T. for 4c. flour> to give adequate cardamomness to a blueberry lemon cake. (Recipes calling for 1 tsp per 2 c. flour- do nothing for me.)

But it is such a labor of love to remove the seeds from the pods. So I am finally appealing to you brilliant CHs, hoping you might have some special tips.

Do you find that the seeds removed by you from the pods- are stronger flavor than the seeds packaged in Indian stores? If so, how do you most efficiently part the pods from their seeds? I've been using a mortar and pestle to grind the pods til they come apart, and then picking out the pod pieces before grinding the seeds to 'powder'. whew! :-{

Maybe it would be easier if i only worked 2T. at a time instead of 1/3 c.? would a kitchen aid w/ a paddle work better? It's so discouraging when preparing the cardamom component takes twice as long as making the cookies, etc.!

And lastly, almost every recipe I find for Indian kheer and other cooked sweets- has the cardamom being added at the end , post- cooking. I have always thought cooking or steeping with the seeds or cracked pods- would impart more cardamom flavor.Any thoughts about this? Thanks so much for your help.

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  1. I, too, like cardamom, and I also cook a lot of Indian food. I do buy both the whole pods at the Indian grocery and the "de-podded-but-not-yet-crushed-seeds." I also do the crack, then pick out the pods bit, but also do it only recipe-by-recipe 'cause I'm impatient to get going on the cooking. For Indian recipes, I always crack the shell of the pod, then toss it into the cooking liquids to get a stronger cardamom flavor, then fish it out at the end. Alternatively, I have occasionally cracked pods, wrapped 'em in a bit of cheesecloth & tie to allow for the "steeping" and ease of removal (biting down on a whole bit of cardamom isn't pleasant, even if I do like the flavor). Hope this made some sense, and good luck!

    1. For most South Asian recipes I grind or crush the whole cardamom pod, including the green husk. I do not separate the husk and the seeds. As far as I know, this typical in Indian cooking. Very occasionally I remove the black pieces from the husk for specific purposes. I never grind and keep cardamom powder. I only grind it as I need it. Sometimes if I have a recipe that only asks for a tiny amount of freshly ground cardamom, I grind it with a bit of sugar or salt (depending on the recipe) since the grinder doesn't work very well with only a few pods in it. For items like kheer I prefer to add in ground cardamom so that no one has to pick pods out of their dessert. I have never purchased ground cardamom as it loses its perfume quickly and I figured it wouldn't be very potent. I have seen the de-husked black seeds at the store but also figured I was better off buying the whole green cardamom as is due to the potency factor.

      1. The seeds taken out of the husk at home have only marginally better fragrance than the pre-husked seeds you tend to get at the stores. Obviously buying the pre-ground powder is pointless.

        I just tend to take apart from the cardamom husk using my nails by a quick pinch (a bit of nail req, though I can assure mine are small) - they do fall out pretty easily. Then mortar and pestle for a quick grind. in other applications, I just quickly smash the pods a bit to release seeds and then add them.

        In kheers, you can add the fresh powder either once the milk has boiled and reduced a bit, or at the very end. Adding at the very end gives a brilliant whiff of aroma and is quite useful if you serve the kheer immediately; else it doesn't quite matter much. The sweet, heady flavour of cardamom comes through either way.

        1. To remove seeds give the pod a good, firm whack from the butt of a knife, a hammer, a rolling pin, etc. as this will quickly remove seeds, and I recommend putting them in a makeshift paper towel "sack" before doing so. Let the reader understand. Blessings.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Treeonastring

            v good advice. i have also been very happy with the pungency of the hull-less seeds i get at Indian mkts.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Just for info, Decorticated is the Term for just the whole Seeds.

          2. I guess it is a little time-consuming, but I typically just take the pod on the countertop, and push down on one half of it with my thumb. It splits open enough that I can scrape the seeds out with my nail (or, depending on what I'm doing with it, I sometimes just use the partially-opened pod, like in tea). It doesn't seem to be all that nightmarish.

            1 Reply
            1. re: anakalia

              Similarly, sometimes I nick the pod with the paring knife, then pop out the seeds.