What is cardamom?

Cardamom is a spice that comes from the seeds of a plant in the ginger family. The cardamom plant is native to India and other South Asian countries, but it can be grown in other places like Guatemala, China, and Sri Lanka. 

The name cardamom comes from the Greek word kardamomon which translates to ground cinnamon; the similarity between the two flavours have led to cardamom being used as a substitute for cinnamon throughout its history. 

Where does cardamom come from?

Cardamom comes from the plant Elettaria cardamomum, which is indigenous to India and Sri Lanka. The plant grows in high altitudes, usually on or near coffee plantations. It is harvested by hand before it has a chance to flower, then dried for use. In order to release the essential oils that give cardamom its distinct flavour, the pods are either lightly roasted in a pan or boiled in water for about 10 minutes.

How is cardamom used?

Cardamom is the third most expensive spice in the world, behind saffron and vanilla. It is used extensively in Indian cuisine, as well as other South Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal. It's used as both a sweetener and seasoning. In its whole form, it's often used to flavour stews, curries, rice, tea and coffee.

Interestingly, cardamom is also used in some Scandinavian cuisines such as Norwegian buns (a sweet bread) or Swedish flatbreads called limpa. 

How do I cook with cardamom?

Cardamom is often used as a spice for desserts, such as cakes and cookies, but it also can be used in savoury dishes. For example, you can add cardamom to rice or use it in curries. As long as you are using whole pods instead of ground cardamom, the flavour will infuse into the dish while cooking. Cardamom is used in many different recipes, from Indian curries to Scandinavian breads. 

Some of our favourite recipes with Cardamom: