Cardamom is one of those spices that most people don’t use on a regular basis. However, it’s also a versatile spice that’s able to be used in a lot of dishes.
Depending on if your cardamom is black or green, or whole or ground, you’ll get different flavors. Generally, green cardamom is sweet, spicy, and citrusy, and black cardamom is smoky and minty. Ground cardamom will have a more intense flavor, while whole cardamom is more subtle.
Overall, cardamom is a fairly strong spice in both flavor and aroma. So a little tends to go a long way.
Types of Cardamom
Cardamom comes in both black and green and each carries its own taste palate. In addition, you can also find white cardamom, but white cardamom is simply green cardamom that has been bleached.
Black cardamom is an intense flavor. It’s smoky and minty and somewhat like menthol. Generally, black cardamom is used in savory dishes, as it’s often used to add spiciness to meals.
Whole Black Cardamom Pods
Whole black cardamom pods are about ⅓ an inch in size. They are generally used whole in dishes. Frying them in a little oil helps to release their flavor and aroma.
While they are almost always cooked whole, you can crush them just before serving and spread them throughout the dish. An excellent example would be to use them in the crockpot while reheating pulled pork.
Ground Black Cardamom
When ground, black cardamom has the same flavor as its whole counterpart. However, it is much more intense, so you’ll need to use much less.
If you’re familiar with cardamom, it’s likely you know about green cardamom. Green cardamom is the spice that’s often lumped in with cinnamon and nutmeg. If you need a substitute for either of these, cardamom is a good stand-in.
Green cardamom has a taste that’s both sweet and spicy. It also tends to have a hint of citrus flavor as well. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes but is often used in baking, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise.
Whole Green Cardamom Seeds
When using green cardamom whole, its job is to infuse its flavor into the dish. Generally, you’ll allow it to soak in liquid and remove it before serving. Its most common uses are drinks, soups, and sauces.
Ground Green Cardamom
Similar to ground black cardamom, the green kind is also more intense when ground. Make sure you start out with a little and add more if you need to.
Black and green cardamom have very different tastes. It’s probably no surprise that they have very different aromas as well.
To go along with its smoky, intense flavor, black cardamom also has a strong smoky smell. In addition, it also has hints of menthol and mint.
Unlike black cardamom, green cardamom has a sweet, spicy, warm smell that has notes of earthiness to it.
What a Difference Time Makes
Black and green cardamom are both harvested from the same plant. It’s the difference of timing that makes them so different. Green cardamom plants are harvested before they reach maturity and black after.
Now you know the differences in both tastes and aroma of black and green cardamom. You’ll easily be able to tell which one is appropriate for each dish.
If you are looking for a smoky, minty intense flavor, you can use black cardamom. For dishes that need a sweet, spicy warm flavor, reach for green cardamom.