Black Cardamom

Bakers need not apply: This spice is for savory dishes only.

What Is It?

Black cardamom may be a relative of both ginger and green cardamom, but with a vastly different personality. Where green cardamom has a subtle sweetness ideal for cakes and breads, the black variety is twice the size and all shadow and smoke, due in part to being blackened over an open fire. The drying method produces a parched, crackly pod imbued with the heady, intense aroma of camphor and resin.

What Do I Do With It?

Black cardamom is traditionally used across North Africa and Asia to impart warm wood-smoke flavor in everything from curries to pho. It loves liquids, which give the seeds time to stretch out and work their magic. Toss into braised beef dishes, roasted fish, lentils, collard greens or kale, or pickled winter vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, onions or carrots. The intense spice plays well with others – blend it with cumin, coriander, juniper, caraway or fennel to keep its considerable pungency in check. Black cardamom isn’t hard to find, either: Look for it at spice shops or in most Indian or Asian markets.

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Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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