My Spice Cupboard – What is Cardamom? What Can I Use Cardamom For?

My Spice Cupboard - What is Cardamom? What Can I Use Cardamom For?

This post marks the beginning of series of posts entitled ‘My Spice Cupboard.’ This series aims to helps you all get familiar with spices that may be new and unusual for you and hopes to get you using them in your cooking a bit more! Each post will take on one new spice and introduce it to you, including how it taste and what recipes it can be used in. I truly hope this series helps get you more acquainted with some otherwise confusing spices!

Cardamom, ahh cardamom. It’s that spice we all hate biting into when we’re having a good Biryani, but it also happens to be one of those spices that really enhances the flavour or whatever it’s in! Cardamom has a very warm and mildly sweet flavour and is incredibly aromatic. It goes very well in a variety of rich and luxurious Pakistani and Indian dishes, however it is most prominently used in desserts. The characteristic taste of Kheer, Halwa and Mithais is thanks to cardamom!

Cardamom can be found in it’s whole form and powdered form. In it’s whole form, it is very potent and extremely flavourful, especially if you lightly bruise it with the back of a spoon – it’s powdered counterpart is much less flavoured. Having said this, it’s not always convenient to be using whole pods of cardamom and some people may not even like having whole bits of them in their food, therefore, I like keeping both kinds of cardamom in my spice cupboard.

You can also extract these smaller black pods out of the outer green shell. These black pods are incredibly fragrant and have more flavour than the green shell

For those of you who have read my Palak Murgh recipe, you will know that the first time I (disastrously) cooked for my husband after my marriage, I put in a handful of cardamom pods into my curry and he bit into exactly two in his first bite! This awful experience compelled me to stay firmly AWAY from cardamom until a good few months after, when I regained my confidence somewhat. I realised that in small quantities, cardamom is a beautiful spice that really works to enhance the flavour of a dish wonderfully. And for those of us who REALLY love cardamom, there are plenty of recipes that really showcase it’s aroma, taste and just general beauty!

Here are a few recipes that use cardamom from around the web and from Fatima Cooks, used in Pakistani cooking and international cuisine:

For a REALLY strong cardamom flavour:

Aromatic Lamb Curry with Cardamom

Fatima Cooks – Aromatic Lamb Curry with Cardamom – the flavour of the cardamom is really the highlight of the recipe

Saveur – Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamom Bread

This Muslim Girl Bakes – Coconut and Cardamom Cookies – one of my FAVOURITE biscuit recipes! Whenever I bake a batch of these, they are GONE within moments.

The Spice Spoon – Cardamom Tea Cake

Beauty and the Foodie – Turkish Cardamom Coffee 

My Persian Kitchen – Hel Polow (Cardamom Rice)


Other recipes which use cardamom

Chicken Pilau Pakistani Style

Fatima Cooks – Chicken Pilau

Fatima Cooks – Sindhi Mutton Biryani

Eat Little Bird – Cardamom Scented Chicken

Maunika Gowardhan – Sindhi Seyal Gosht

Cardamom Kheer

Masala chai – The traditional South-East Asian tea that everyone loves!


Here are some other uses for cardamom!

  • Add a pod or two (depending on how strong a flavour you fancy!) to your green or mint tea for a refreshing change up of flavour
  • Chew on one after a heavy or spicy meal as a mouth freshener. To be avoided if you can’t deal with too much cardamom!
  • Add a pod or two to your coffee for a particularly Desi touch.
  • Add a pinch of cardamom powder wherever you would use cinnamon in any dessert
  • Sprinkle freshly ground cardamom powder over a fruit salad
  • Add half to a whole tsp of ground cardamom to your regular sponge cake recipe for an aromatic and sweet change
  • Add half a tsp or so to yogurt to eat on its own or with granola, fruit, nuts etc
  • Use a pinch in any sweet dessert you cook, really!

The aim of the ‘My Spice Cupboard’ posts are to help those of us who may be new to the kitchen and to cooking and aren’t sure of how and where to use certain spices. If you are new to cooking and would like to learn more about Pakistani Cooking from the basics, then have a look at my book ‘The Clueless Pakistani Cook’, a comprehensive and detailed guidebook for beginner Pakistani Cooks! Click here to find out more about ‘The Clueless Pakistani Cook’ and click here to purchase it!

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