Black cardamom pods are an Indian spice mainly used in cooking many savory dishes. Although it
is known as black, the color is a deep shade of brown than black. Its scientific name is
Amomum subulatum. It is better for hearty meat stews and similar dishes. It can also be used
for stomach disorders and malaria.
It can be used in soups, chowders, casseroles and marinades for a smoky flavor and also can
be used for preparing garam masala. Black cardamom is dried over an open fire creating a
distinct smoky aroma and flavor. This spice also has notes of resin and camphor, as well as
menthol, a slightly minty aroma that provides balance to an otherwise funky flavor. These
intense, heady notes put black cardamom in the "warming" spice category, along with black pepper
cloves, and chiles.
Cooking With Black Cardamom
The black cardamom pods are mostly used whole and almost always fried in a little oil to cause
it to fully release its flavors and aroma. Before adding to a dish, the pods can also be
crushed slightly to reveal the seed. When a recipe calls for black cardamom powder, remove
and discard the skin, grind the seeds in a clean, dry coffee grinder, and use immediately.
You can also grind the whole pod and strain through a colander to remove the outer skin. The
black cardamom pods benefit from long, slow cooking times in moist heat, and work well with
other strong-flavored spices. If using ground, a little goes a long way, so the spice should
be used sparingly.
As with most spices, black cardamom should be stored in a well-sealed container away from light
and heat. The pods will remain fresh for about a year while the ground black cardamom will
retain its flavor for only a few months.