You’re probably quite familiar with the more popular Green Cardamom, but if you are searching for new and unique flavor profiles then you can’t go wrong with its bolder cousin – Black Cardamom. Black Cardamom has a unique flavor and aroma and while similar is really very different than green cardamom. It has been described as smoky, funky and a bit brash.
Popular in Indian dishes, black cardamom is more of a warm spice while green cardamom is more of a cooling spice. This makes black cardamom preferred in standard Garam Masalas and Tandoori Spice blends.
Black Cardamom is dried over an open fire which provides its smoky aroma. You’ll also notice the smell of tar that is both strong and somewhat delicate with an earthy undertone. When purchasing the pods you want whole pods and not broken. Like Fennel Seeds you should also grind these right before you need them as the seeds quickly lose their volatile oil once ground.
Their intense flavor makes them ideally suited to longer cooking dishes which have the presence of water and fat soluble oils. In addition to their use in masala and Tandoori spice blends, black cardamom pods can be used in cooking soups, stews and casseroles. Add a few to give an almost mysterious, bacony flavor. If you add toward the end of the cooking process the flavor tends to be stronger than when added at the beginning.
Helpful hints: Just as you would with green cardamom, you can break open the pods and use the seeds whole or ground (for a potent kick). You can also grind the entire pod. We sometimes use the whole pod and just drop into the dish (especially in our rice cooker) during cooking. The flavor is still bold and they are easily removed. It is also a bit challenging grinding them into a fine powder and then picking out the larger shards.
Black cardamom is popular in rice pilafs as well as vegetable and meat curries. It is also a secret ingredient in rubs and sauces for braised beef.
Each Black Cardamom pod holds between 40 and 55 seeds.
Works well with stronger spices such as black pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin and nutmeg.
One of our favorite recipes using Black Cardamom is Punjabi Chicken.