How to Use Cardamom in Indian Food

Learn about the spice cardamom and how it's used in Indian recipes from cookbook author Maya Kaimal in this Howcast Indian food video.


Cardamom is one of the most valuable spices in the world. Vanilla and Saffron being the other two most expensive spices. It's grown in southern India. Grows in little pods that are dried. These are green Cardamom pods which have a nice, almost sort of camphor, sweet smell to them. There's green Cardamom. There's white Cardamom pods, which are simply bleached green pods. And then there are black Cardamom pods, which have a kind of a hairy husk on them. And they are a little stronger. Stronger tasting. Have a kind of smoky taste as well. And Cardamom is also sold in a ground form, which is convenient to use. But it loses its intensity after a while.

The best way to work with Cardamom is to, you want to crack open the pods. You really don't eat the husk. What you want these lovely little seeds. There's about ten or 20 seeds. You can see one of them there. Cardamom's the feature in most Indian sweets and puddings. I think of it as the Vanilla of India, because it's so commonly used in all of their deserts. It has a little heat to its flavor too. So it works well in savory dishes as well as sweet dishes.

You'll find it meat curries, you'll find it in biryanis, which are the rice casseroles, and you'll find it in rice pilafs. You'll probably want to take the Cardamom pods out if you've put them whole into your rice dish. Because to chew on them, it's a little bit of a sharp bite. Although, Indians like to use Cardamom pods as a kind of breath freshener. They'll just chew on them and they do have a kind of minty heat to them.

Cardamom has a really lovely flavor. And if you want the most intensity from your Cardamom, then I recommend you buy the whole pods, and grind them yourself.

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