WHAT IS IT?
Black cardamom is a member of the ginger family, and a family friend of green cardamom, but they are most certainly not the same plant. It has some of the same flavor notes, especially an uplifting menthol element, but it’s also smoky, brash and bold. Ground cardamom is extremely strong. A little goes a long way in cooking. It’s a supporting spice, more the backswing of the taste and a leader on the nose.
Black cardamom pods are rougher than green cardamom. In fact, you might identify the flavor as a tad abrasive at times. This rugged quality is what makes it so delightful in rubs and spice blends. Unlike green cardamom, this spice is rarely used in sweet dishes. Unlike many ground spices, ground cardamom has a much longer shelf life.
Black cardamom is grown throughout Guatemala, Vietnam, and India. At first it was seen as a poor substitute for green cardamom, but recently it has become valued for its own flavor.
- Used in tea infusions, such as spiced chai
- Thrown into soups and broths for deeper, smoky flavors
- Found in pickling recipes and charcuterie
- Historically used to improve and maintain oral health
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- A great addition to a simple American barbecue spice rub as a flavor accent
- Cracked and roasted on top of roasted butternut squash chunks with a bit of pequin chile pepper and salt.
- A pod dropped into an Asian cucumber and shallot pickling produces extra depth.
- As role player in a mix of seasonings in bit of rice bran oil it offers meats and seafoods a big kick that are wok-fried Asian or even sauteed for African or Euro-American dishes.
The German coffee planter Oscar Majus Kloeffer introduced Indian cardamom to cultivation in Guatemala before World War I. By 2000, that country had become the biggest producer and exporter of cardamom in the world, followed by India. Cardamom is the world’s third-most expensive spice, surpassed in price per weight only by vanilla and saffron.
- Hill cardamom
- Bengal cardamom
- Winged cardamom
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