Green cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
First of all: green cardamom is my absolute favourite spice. I would love to use it anywhere. I already eat it ground over my muesli for breakfast, then at noon with rice, for dessert, for example to refine an ice cream and I like it in the coffee as well. ?
Cardamom is best when freshly ground
You can crush the seeds in a mortar or grind them fresh in a pepper mill. Of course, this is only possible with the seeds. If you have capsules, you can squeeze them and cook them with something. Or you can open them and take out the seeds, which you can then crush in a mortar or grind.
I advise against buying ground cardamom. The essential oil contained in cardamom is very volatile. So after only one week you don’t have the full cardamom taste any more and that would be a real pity.
Cardamom is related to ginger and turmeric
The best cardamom comes from the humid forests of Malabar (India). The tree reaches a height of 2- 3 meters. Cardamom is also cultivated in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Guatemala. The almost ripe cardamom capsules are picked by hand and then dried. Each capsule contains about 15 brown-black seeds, which have an aroma that can remind you of eucalyptus and lemon and an intensely fresh taste. The cardamom capsules should be almost grass green. This is a sign of freshness and good quality. If the capsules are yellowish-white, they are probably older. However, in some countries white cardamom is preferred to green. In reality they are the same, except that white cardamom capsules are bleached.
Cardamom is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla.
Cardamom is a component of many blends
You can find it for example in curry, garam masala and chai-tea. In Arab countries it is used to flavour coffee, while in Europe it is used in the gingerbread mixture or to season sausages. It is very good in bread rolls or rice, fruit salad and cakes. Cardamom is particularly popular in sweet pastries in Scandinavia. You can also chew some seeds to refresh your breath.
Black cardamom (Amomum subulatum)
Black cardamom is bigger and coarser. Its seeds smell and taste earthy and tart, almost camphor-like and, since they are dried over an open fire, also somewhat smoky. They are less fresh than the seeds of the green cardamom and are therefore mainly used in hearty dishes. It is mainly used in India, Nepal, China and Vietnam. It goes well with rice, soups, meat and fish dishes.
In any case, I always have a pepper mill with green cardamom seeds within easy reach, so I can always bring the fresh taste into my plate.
And you? Do you like cardamom?