Cardamom

schwebender Cardamom

Hardly any other spice is associated quite as strongly with Indian cuisine as cardamom. The dried fruits have a fresh lemony flavor reminiscent of eucalyptus.

Cardamom in einer Schüssel

Cardamom as a Spice

Green cardamom is closely associated with its native country, India. It has grown there for over 5000 years and is a staple ingredient in national cuisine, as well as an important part of Ayurvedic medicine. Cardamom is treasured for its mildly warming, lemony and aromatic flavor and its distinct note of eucalyptus. For a long time, cardamom was used more as a medicinal substance and a fragrance than as a spice. In ancient times, Egyptians would chew the seed pods to whiten their teeth and freshen their breath. The ancient Greeks and Romans, meanwhile, used cardamom to make perfume.

Cardamom Verwendung 1Milchreis mit Erdbeeren und Cardamom

Usage

This staple Indian spice is used to flavor all kinds of curries, lentil and rice dishes, vegetables, meat dishes, desserts and drinks such as tea and coffee. Cardamom is also often included in seasoning mixes because its flavor perfectly complements other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, star anise, black pepper and cumin. Cardamom seeds can be added to dishes in ground form or in their pods. It’s easier to add an exact amount when ground — though you get a more intense flavor if you use the seed pods, which you can gently crush using a pestle and mortar and add to the dish as it is cooking. The pods themselves should not be eaten.

Tip!

Before use, whole cardamom should be peeled and ground or crushed using a pestle and mortar to allow the flavors to be released.

Cardamom Pflanze in Natur
Ursprungsgebiet von Cardamom auf der Weltkarte: Guatemala

The Plant

Besides saffron and vanilla, cardamom is not only one of the most aromatic spices in the world, but also one of the most expensive. The seed pods of the cardamom plant are picked by hand in a time-consuming process. The timing of the harvest is crucial to make sure that the spice develops its full flavor once it has been dried. The herbaceous perennial can grow to up to four meters tall and comes predominantly from Sri Lanka and the South Indian Cardamom Hills, from which the spice gets its name. Even today, it’s often still grown together with coffee and pepper. Cardamom from Sri Lanka has much larger pods, but has a less intense flavor. Nowadays, around half of the world’s harvest comes from Guatemala.

Factbox

Scientific Name
Elettaria cardamomum
Family
Ginger family (Zingiberaceae)
Other Names
Green cardamom, Malabar cardamom
Origin
India, Sri Lanka, Guatemala