Black Cardamom pods are smoky deeply aromatic spice used in Indian dishes that many don’t know about but have surely tasted it. What are they and how is it different from Green cardamom?
You may have seen or bitten into a soft stony slightly bitter chunks of black seedy thing in your Indian curry once in a while!
That funny looking spice which you remove or immediately take out of your mouth because of its overwhelming taste, is an essential aromatic Indian spice called ‘Black Cardamom’ also sometimes called Brown Cardamon due to its dark brown colour.
What is Black Cardamom
Black cardamom pods are native Indian spice used in cooking many savoury dishes.
It is a whole bud with small black seeds inside when you crack it open.
Although known as black, the colour is a deep shade of brown than black.
The skin is rough and wrinkly.
If you were under the impression that it belongs to the same family as green cardamom then you are wrong.
Not only do green and black cardamom belong to different plants but have a completely different taste, appearance and usage in cooking.
Other Names Of Black Cardamom Pods
English – Black Cardamom, Brown Cardamom
Black Cardamon in Hindi – Badi Elaichi, Kali Elaichi
German – Schwarzer Kardamom
Different Types Of Cardamom Pods
Not many are aware that there are 3 different types of Cardamom that is used for cooking:
- Green Cardamom
- Black or Brown Cardamom
- White Cardamom
Green Cardamom is perhaps the most popular spice easily available in most superstores. It is used in many different cuisines and not just limited to Indian. You are read here to see the uses of green cardamoms.
White Cardamom is the bleached variety of green cardamom and used less often in dishes. It is a cheaper version of green cardamom that has a milder flavour profile compared to the other cardamoms.
The small seeds inside a Black cardamom pod is a warming aromatic spice mostly used to cook savoury dishes.
Difference Between Black Cardamom and Green Cardamom
Green cardamoms are the most popular and widely used cardamon.
Each of the three cardamom varieties have a different flavour, appearance and use in cooking.
Lets break them down into the difference profiles :
Difference in Taste – Green cardamom has a fresh, citrusy, well rounded and balanced flavour.
Black cardamom in contrast has a smoky woody undertone while white cardamom has the least flavour being the inferior of the two spices.
Use in Cooking – Green cardamoms can be used for making both sweet and savoury dishes, while black cardamom pods are used for making savoury dishes.
It is a very popular spice in many South-East Asian cuisines particularly Indian, Vietnamese and Thai.
Plant Origin- Although a relative of green cardamom pod, each variety of cardamom grow on different plants.
Strange as it may sound but cardamoms belong to the ginger family.
Black cardamons are commercially grown in North-Eastern part of India, Bhutan and Nepal.
What Does Black Cardamom Taste Like
Black Cardamom has a strong, smoky flavour.
Most of the flavour and taste of a whole cardamom pod comes from the tiny seeds inside the pod.
The whole pods are dried over an open fire for a long time which gives it a very strong, pungent woody aroma that distinguishes it from other spices.
Under the robust smoky flavours you will also get a slight menthol undertone that is similar to green cardamom yet very different.
Due to the strong smoky flavours that render warming notes to the dish, Black Cardamom is classified as a warm spice similar to cloves, black pepper and cinnamon.
Uses Of Black Cardamon For Cooking
As mentioned earlier, Black Cardamom is a very popular spice used to make Indian curries and many other dishes.
The large pods are used in whole form or maybe slightly pounded to flatten it and expose the seeds inside.
Whole pods can be used for tempering in warm oil to release the aromatic oils from the pod, or stewed and cooked in a liquid broth to infuse the dish with a delicate smoky aroma.
A common use of Black Cardamom is when a dish requires a relatively long time to simmer, such as when making rice, whole grains, lentils, meat dishes or even broths for soups and stews!
The prolonged simmering of the dish in a liquid helps to squeeze out the oils and inject the dish with a woody freshness!
It is mostly used to make savoury dishes since smoky flavour in desserts and sweets is not favoured.
Black Cardamom is also one of the most important spices that go into making the authentic Indian spice called Garam Masala Powder. Which is why its use in Indian cuisine is indispensable.
Since this spice makes a good blending spice, you can use it with other spices to make dry rubs and seasonings.
Handy Cooking Tips When Using Black Cardamom Pods
Below are few tips to keep in mind when cooking with black cardamom:
- As the skin of black cardamom is rough and hard, its difficult to grind it, so remove any roughage when using black cardamom for making spice blends.
- Whole pods used during the cooking process can be easily removed from the dish before serving to avoid bitter bites.
- If you do not want to use whole black cardamom seeds you can open the pod and grind the seeds into powder instead. Do keep in mind that it is the skin that emits the smoky woody aroma.
Benefits of Black Cardamom
Aids digestion – Black cardamom is rich in fibre which helps in digestion. A study has shown that chewing on black cardamom produces saliva which aids digestion and also kills harmful bacteria in the stomach.
Helps to eliminate respiratory problems – Black cardamom is known as a remedy for respiratory problems such as whooping cough, asthma. chest infection. The warming effect of the spices helps to cure cold and coughs by alleviating the mucous membrane and normalising the flow of mucus through the respiratory tract.
Helps to detoxify the body – Black cardamom is said to help flush out toxins from our body and maintain a healthy system.
Improves immune system – Apart from being a detoxifier, Black Cardamom also contains high level of Vitamin C, antibacterial and antiviral properties, which is very good for building a healthy immune system.
Maintains good oral hygiene – Because of the anti-bacterial properties present in Black Cardamom, it aids in maintaining a good oral health. Chewing of black cardamom kills bacteria present in the mouth, which is the main cause of bad breath and keep our tongue and gums clean.
Stress reliever – Black Cardamom has very powerful oils which have a calming effect on our body. The oil is highly anaesthetic and sedative and improves blood circulation. This helps in preventing tension headaches. The essential oils is known to help in eliminating stress and fatigue and other aches and pains.
Where to Buy Black Cardamom Pods?
When it comes to choosing and buying Black Cardamom, its best to buy dark, elongated and not too large pods.
They tend to have a stronger flavour and better roughage.
It may be difficult to find Black Cardamom in your regular grocery store or supermarket.
However, you can buy them easily from any Indian grocery, a health food store or an online store.
You can choose to buy them in a jar, a tin or a pack.
If buying loose, make sure that you store them correctly.
Few recommeded online stores to buy black cardamom pods from are:
UK and Rest of Europe
Buy Whole Black Cardamom from buywholefoodsonline.co.uk.
Buy Whole Black Cardamom from the amazon and get it delivered directly to your door step.
How to Store Black Cardamom
As with all spices store Black Cardamom in an opaque airtight container away from direct light or heat.
It is best not to add this spice with other whole spices such as green cardamom. They are two different spices with different flavour profiles.
If stored well, the spice will keep its character and flavour for almost a year.
Best Food and Spices Combinations With Black Cardamom
Black Cardamom is used in many savory dishes and goes well with most whole grains, meats, fish, legumes, lentils, rice and other spices.
Best food pairing: cauliflower, chicken, curry, egg, fish, ginger, lamb, lentils, peas, potatoes, rice, soups, stews, spinach, tomatoes, orange and red vegetables
Best spice pairing: cumin seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, dry chillies, turmeric
Spice Substitute for Black Cardamom
Although an important spice, Black cardamom can either be easily substituted with another spice or omitted from the dish. Best substitutes for Black Cardamom are:
Green cardamom (although lacks the smokiness), Cinnamon and cloves.
Easy Recipes To Cook With Black Cardamom
Buy Spices Online
Avail the convenience to get a range of spices, special ingredients and regular grocery delivered straight to your door without any hassle.
Your Views and Recipes
Please do leave your comment if you think I may have missed out on something.
I love to hear your kitchen adventures so please share any recipes made with Black Cardamom that you love.
And as always if you think this article deserves more eyes then please do share by clicking the share and/or save buttons.