The Spice is Right: Discover Cardamom

Creative cooks find delicious new uses for this ancient, aromatic herb.

| December/January 2009

  • Cardamom is Queen of the spices.
    North Wind Picture Archives
  • The papery green pods of true cardamom contain aromatic seeds, prized for cooking.
  • Cardamom complements the spicy-sweet flavor of mango and dates in this delicious Indian chutney.
  • Make it easy: This light and luscious apple and yogurt dessert is the perfect ending to a holiday feast, as well as a weeknight family supper.

Cardamom Recipes:

• Sindhi Mango Chutney
• Steamed Fish with Cardamom Leaves
• Yogurt Apple Pudding with Cardamom 

Once considered one of the world’s most precious spices—reserved for holidays, weddings and other special occasions—cardamom is captivating a new generation of admirers. With a hint of clove, the spiciness of ginger, and overtones of vanilla and citron, cardamom can add layers of complex, subtle flavor to any dish.

Native to the monsoon forests of southern India and Sri Lanka, true cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a perennial herb and member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. Like ginger, cardamom has a fleshy rhizome and long, lance-shaped leaves. Delicate white flowers appear at the base of the tall plants in springtime, giving way to green seed pods (or fruits) in autumn. Within the papery pods are cardamom’s prized seeds, richly aromatic and intensely flavored. Many other cardamoms (mostly Amomum spp.)—including Cambodian, Bengal, Siamese and Java—grow throughout Asia and Australia, but these black-podded types lack the complex flavor of true cardamom. 

Because of its woodland origins, cardamom proved a perfect shade-loving secondary crop for tea and coffee plantations, and the spice has been a favorite flavoring for both beverages for centuries. In Arabic countries, cardamom commonly is ground and brewed with coffee, while in India, it often is added to tea.  

Growing Cardamom at Home

5/22/2013 9:01:34 PM

Here is one of my favorite simple uses of cardamom--Yellikai in the Tamil Language of South India. There are more recipes for cardamom, a great digestive spice in Ayurveda, on my blog,

Here is my Somali Tea with Cardamom recipe:



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