Few spices can instantly transform a dish quite like cardamom. It’s perfumed, exotic and a little bit goes a long way – whether crushed and infused, or whether the seeds are scraped out of the pods with a knife tip and ground with sugar.
Quality pods are plump, green and aromatic, while low-grade cardamom is inconsistently sized and faded. The appearance is an indication of the potency and flavour. We’re confident that we’ve tracked-down some top cardamom, which really justifies its nickname as The Queen of Spices.
In the Middle East, perfumed pods are put in the spout of a dallah coffee pot to flavour the coffee as it’s poured, while in India cardamom is one of the key flavours in a chai. Whole pods might stud curries or pilaffs, or infuse sweet rice puddings – and are increasingly used in fusion-flavoured jams, compotes or crème brulees. Often the seeds are scraped out of the pods, and ground with sugar to season Scandinavian-style buns and bread.
ALSO KNOWN AS: True Cardamom, Elettaria Cardamomum
COOK THIS SPICE
Spice Poached Pears
Torie's Masala Chai
Carrot Cardamom Salad
Syrian Spaghetti with Pomegranate and Lentils
Tonia Buxton's Cardamom Cake
Cardamom wasn’t introduced to Guatemala until the 1920s, but production recently overtook India making it the world’s top cardamom exporter. It’s where our cardamom comes from – it's a haven for the plants which thrive in tropical rain, interspersed with intense sunshine. The ‘green gold of Guatemala’ – as it’s locally known – is hand-harvested and graded by size and colour, with large, and green pods commanding most at market.
Cardamom pods should be stored in a dark, airtight container, to prevent them from becoming sun-bleached, and losing their potency.
Cardamom has been proven to posses antioxidant properties, (for more information click HERE). In Ayurvedic medicine it is used to destroy mucus, as a digestive aid and also as a breath freshener.