Cardamom is an expensive spice, second only to saffron and vanilla in price by weight (via MasterClass), and it is sold in whole pods, as seeds, or as a ground powder. The whole pods contain several seeds. Home cooks can grind these pods themselves and use both the ground seeds and pods in their recipes or use a mortar and pestle to retrieve the seeds from the pod. According to SpruceEats, recipes calling for black cardamom usually instruct the cook to use the whole pod or pods to flavor the dish but discard the tough husks before serving.
Many recipes call for the easy-to-use cardamom powder, the spice commonly sold in stores. It can be made from dried, ground seeds or whole ground pods and seeds. This second powder is less expensive, but also considered to be of lesser quality than powders made from only seeds. If using powder, it’s best to consume it as close to the purchase date as possible, as the essential oils that impart its flavor can lose potency over time.
Curious about cardamom? BBC Food offers a recipe for Punjabi chicken curry that features green cardamom pods, while a boldly spiced basmati rice from Eat Live Cool features whole black cardamom pods.
Both green and black cardamom are flavorful, useful, and deserve a spot in your spice cabinet.