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Cardamom -- how do you use it?

CindyJ Sep 24, 2012 06:52 AM

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. l
    lcool Sep 24, 2012 07:29 AM

    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. t
      tastesgoodwhatisit Sep 24, 2012 07:36 AM

      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. todao Sep 24, 2012 07:49 AM

        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. goodhealthgourmet Sep 24, 2012 07:49 AM

          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
            biondanonima Sep 24, 2012 09:07 AM

            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
              sr44 Sep 24, 2012 09:55 AM

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

              1. re: sr44
                smithareeny Sep 24, 2012 10:05 AM

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

                1. re: smithareeny
                  sr44 Sep 24, 2012 08:23 PM

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

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet
              CindyJ Sep 24, 2012 07:43 PM

              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
                lcool Sep 25, 2012 06:59 AM

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

                1. re: lcool
                  pine time Sep 25, 2012 09:53 AM

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

                  1. re: pine time
                    lcool Sep 26, 2012 07:28 AM

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

            3. r
              rasputina Sep 24, 2012 08:54 AM

              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. p
                pine time Sep 24, 2012 09:43 AM

                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. b
                  betsydiver Sep 24, 2012 09:50 AM

                  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. JungMann Sep 24, 2012 11:57 AM

                    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
                      EM23 Sep 24, 2012 02:35 PM

                      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. c
                      Chi_Guy Sep 24, 2012 12:35 PM

                      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. EM23 Sep 24, 2012 02:10 PM

                        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-crepes-with-sweet-coconut-cardamom-fillingpatishapta.html
                        Rachel Allen’s Cardamom Sour-Cream Cake http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/cardamom-sour-cream-cake

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

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: EM23
                          HillJ Sep 24, 2012 07:19 PM

                          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. CindyJ Sep 24, 2012 07:48 PM

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

                          1. p
                            pavlova Sep 25, 2012 06:55 AM

                            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. l
                              lizmom Sep 25, 2012 07:34 AM

                              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
                                FoodExpression Sep 25, 2012 07:36 AM

                                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".

                              2. Cynsa Sep 25, 2012 03:38 PM

                                a lovely cake to serve with cardamom ice cream

                                1. ChrisOfStumptown Sep 27, 2012 01:29 PM

                                  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. grampart Sep 27, 2012 01:43 PM

                                    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. s
                                      suemccartin Apr 17, 2014 06:02 AM

                                      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. kitchensalli Apr 17, 2014 10:04 AM

                                        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.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: kitchensalli
                                          pine time Apr 17, 2014 12:29 PM

                                          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.

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