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Cardamom -- how do you use it?

I just bought my first-ever jar of ground cardamom. I bought it because more and more I've been noticing mentions of it on various cooking shows ("...and that hint of cardamom really does enhance the flavor..."). Okay, so now I have it, but I have no idea what to do with it, or how much of it to use. Are there some guidelines I might follow? For example, would I use it wherever I use vanilla or cinnamon? Or in certain types of dishes? According to the label on the jar, it can be used almost anywhere -- pastries, cookies, stews, etc. But after tasting it, I'm not at all sure what it might add to any of those. I need some guidance here. Thanks!

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  1. It's fragile in the freshness department.I keep mine in the freezer.Bold stuff,easy to over do.

    Use...Me,not a big fan cinnamon in large measures.Gets used here in recipes that already ask for cinnamon,nutmeg,cloves,allspice,chocolate and coffee,as an addition or partial substitution for the others.
    pound cake,shortbread cookies,peaches (sweet and savory) pumpkin cheese cake

    curries,lamb and venison braises

    1. I love cardamon, but it does take some practice to cook improvisationally with it, as it's a distinctive flavour, and can be pretty strong.

      Cardamon is a common ingredient in Indian spice mixtures (curries, etc) often blended with things like cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, tumeric etc. So check out some Indian cookbooks for ideas.

      It's great in masala chai - hot, milky, sweet spiced tea. Cardamon and ginger is a common blend for this.

      I find cardamon pairs well with fruits, either in sweet or savory recipes. Cardamon and orange, for example, in a glaze for meat, or cardamon and peach with baked pork, or a cardamon spiked apple sauce.

      I love rice pudding made with coconut milk and cardamon.

      1. It's useful in all kinds of rice dishes, in cakes and cookies and nearly every variety of pastry. I sometimes use it in pancakes.
        "...would I use it wherever I use vanilla or cinnamon? Or in certain types of dishes?"
        I suppose you could consider that but I wouldn't use it with vanilla and cinnamon every time I used both of those. Using any set combination of flavorings and spices as a routine tends to make everything taste the same. I use it whole and grind it as I need it. But as pointed out by tastesgoodwhatisit and Icool, it can be quite strong and if you're hot careful it will overpower a dish so use it sparingly and learn by experience how to apply it to your recipes; less is more.

        1. i personally prefer to buy the whole pods & grind them fresh or steep them in liquid, but the pre-ground is simpler for someone who's not used to working with it. cardamom is one of my favorite spices (actually two, i guess, since i use both green & black), but go easy - it's potent stuff...


          8 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            GHG, do you grind the whole pods or do you crack them and extract the seeds, then grind that? I am way too lazy to extract the seeds so I generally just crack the pods, steep them in whatever I'm cooking then fish them out later, but if the pods can be ground that would make life easier. How are the green and black varieties different? I have only ever used green...

            1. re: biondanonima

              The black have a smoky flavor and are used only in savory dishes.

              1. re: sr44

                Not necessarily. Scandanavians use black cardamom in many of their baked goods.

                1. re: smithareeny

                  I've had cardamom-flavored bread, but it didn't have the smoky camphor-like flavor I associate with black cardamom.

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Thanks! I've got some reading to do. :-)

              The pods -- are they large, like nutmeg? Do you grind them the way you grind other spices? (I use a re-purposed whirlygig coffee grinder.)

              1. re: CindyJ

                small,soft skin with seeds inside,easy to grind or crush,similar in size to a raisin

                1. re: lcool

                  the whole pod is raisin size (altho' black cardamom is bigger), but the seeds are much smaller.

                  1. re: pine time

                    CindyJ asked pod,I think the first time she sees,touches her first soft pod it's all self explained

            3. I actually use it a lot more in whole pod form than ground. Tagines, pilafs, curries, yeast breads, sprinkled on top of latte's, lassi and chai drinks.

              1. As said above, check some Indian recipes for savory uses. For desserts, look up some Swedish dishes. I love cardamom, but how do I use it: sparingly.

                1. After having had it in my coffee during a trip to Israel, I tried a little in my coffee at home for awhile but, as other posters have noted, it is a taste that wears tiresome after a while.

                  1. Ground cardamom really shines with floral flavors such as vanilla or rose, but also with almonds and in rich desserts. Where there is butter, there will be cardamom. It is a surprising counterpoint to the bitterness of grapefruit. The only hard and fast rule, I'd say, is to be sparing at first. It's a strong flavor and a little goes a long way.

                    As previously mentioned, ground cardamom is also essential to spice blends from the Middle East, though given its strong flavor, it usually plays back up rather than being the star of the show (usually dominated by spices such as allspice, cumin or coriander).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JungMann

                      On grapefruit – that sounds really good.
                      The other night, I mixed cardamom with a bit of brown sugar and sprinkled it on peach halves that went under the broiler for a minute or two to melt. Then a drizzle of cream over the top – such a simple dessert, but met with great applause from everyone at the table.

                      And JM, “where there is butter, there will be cardamom” is a mantra I can definitely get behind :-)

                    2. Some uses for cardamom:

                      - Use whole cardamom to infuse basmati rice. Works best paired with another whole spice like cinnamon, cumin, or clove.
                      - Can be ground and mixed with other spices to make garam masala or ras al hanout

                      - Add a little ground cardamom to your coffee grinds for a North African style coffee
                      - Brew green tea with a whole crushed cardamom pod or use in Indian spiced chai

                      - Rice pudding. Milk, crushed rice, sugar, a little rose water, and cardamom.
                      - Use ground cardamom in place of vanilla in desserts such as flan, bread pudding, shortbread cookies.
                      - Baklava
                      - Carrot halva

                      1. I use it in my oatmeal, with almond milk, vanilla extract and brown sugar - delicious!

                        A couple of nice recipes:
                        Crepes with Coconut Cardamom Filling http://newasiancuisine.com/7018-crepe...
                        Rachel Allen’s Cardamom Sour-Cream Cake http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/cardam...

                        And I follow these cardamom boards on Pinterest for recipe ideas. http://pinterest.com/phinefish/cardam...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: EM23

                          I slightly crush a few pods and just add it directly into the Almond Milk container.
                          When making hot cereal I float a pod in the warm milk first, remove & then add the cereal.
                          Cardamom added to honey is really good.
                          Tea cracker and shortbread cookie recipes get a nice kick from crushed seeds.
                          Float a green pod in hot tea.

                        2. Oooooh... I'm beginning to kind of get it. I'll bet I could add it to french toast.

                          1. I use it in almost everything, as I'm not a big cinnamon fan. Creme caramel, creme brûlée, pulla (like challah with cardamom--amazing), cakes, shortbread, chai, with plums, Indian rice pudding, ice cream. try it instead of cinnamon or nutmeg for a different taste. Before long, you'll be buying it in the pods and grinding your own for the freshest flavour.

                            1. CARDOMOM is great in any Indian dish. Use about 1/4 as much as you use of cumin or coriander. It's strong.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lizmom

                                Part of family comes from Afghanistan and cardamom is a prevalent ingredient that is used daily in many dishes. The most simple of them is in tea. Just steep a quarter teaspoon in a pot of tea with a few tea bags of your choice (green or black tea work well) and it makes a very nice aromatic "chai".

                                1. One of the common notions in the comments is that it is good paired with another spice. Think of cardamom as a spice that feels cool in your mouth like a menthol. It's not like cinnamon or ginger which are hot spices. So you can pair it with a hot spice in a recipe and get another layer of flavor.

                                  I especially love mango and cardamom. I take frozen mango, candied ginger, bananas, and puree with whatever fruit juice I have. Top with cardamom, and enjoy. Or just dust mango sorbet with cardamom.

                                  1. My mother' is Norwegian and a Christmas tradition has always been Julekake or Christmas Cake, also called by some Cardamom Bread or Cake. Here's a link to a recipe. http://recipeship.com/recipes/34155.htm

                                    1. I have been doing some research on natural ways to combat hypertension and cardamom has come up. The article claimed 3g of it a day reduced blood pressure measureably. That seems like an awful lot I need something simple to get the daily dose that won't break the bank. Smoothies and apple sauce sound the best to me so far. What do you think?

                                      1. Great to read these recommendations for using cardamom. It is a spice that I don't currently use in savory dishes but would like to experiment with. I love the fragrance of it.

                                        Traditionally have enjoyed cardamom in a Finnish coffee bread called Pulla.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: kitchensalli

                                          For newbies who don't use much cardamom, I recommend buying the whole pods over ground which will become high-price dust when it sits around on the shelf for ages and ages. Crack the pods, extract the bits of webbing, keep the small seeds, and whirl a bunch in a little spice grinder as needed. I've found the pods, if well sealed, will last quite a while.

                                          1. re: pine time

                                            I buy my pods in packages or bulk from Indian groceries. In addition to using them in cardamon syrup, I add cracked pods and vanilla pods to sugar. Keeping a pod in your cheek for a while freshens the breath. I see others have posted adding a pod to almond or other nut milk and grinding pods with coffee beans. If you make bread pudding with sauce, add a pod to your sauce recipe. Grind a few pods and add to baked sweet potato, pumpkin or squash. Add a pod to green dragon extract after it's made.

                                        2. I put a teaspoon of the gound in fruitsalad.

                                          1. Bake a spice cake from a mix and make a frosting of:
                                            1 pint of heavy cream
                                            1 cup of milk
                                            1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding
                                            1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

                                            Whip until firm and set aside for an hour before using to frost and fill the middle of 2 cake layers. It's my traditional birthday breakfast cake. I figured at my age - 60 - it was time to start having cake for breakfast!