What is Cardamom? 

What is cardamom? Often misspelled “cardomom” or “cardamon”, this aromatic spice is native to southern India but its use and cultivation have spread to many other parts of the world. Besides being cultivated in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia and other areas of rain forest, Guatemala is now the largest grower and exporter of cardamom in the world.

What is Cardamom Threads?What is Cardamom Threads?

A generic name for several similar plant species, Elettaria cardamomum is the true cardamom plant and has long, thin leaves and distinctive diaphanous, white flowers with light blue stripes and yellow fringes. Green cardamom, also known as Malabar cardamom, and black cardamom, also known as Mysore cardamom, share a similar camphorous pungence with the black variety having a more robust taste and fragrance.

Ground CardamomGround Cardamom

History of Cardamom

A glimmer of an answer to the question of what is cardamom may be found in ancient history. Known in ancient Rome as a perfume and in Eqypt as a tooth cleanser, it is also mentioned in Sanskrit texts as a ceremonial offering. Indian medical writings prior to 200 A.D. describe its use as an aphrodisiac. In Constantinople, Vikings discovered this spice and introduced it into northern Europe. Spices were a valuable commodity in ancient times and cardamom was a highly valuable cargo from these early years into the Indian colonial period. In the1800’s, British colonial coffee plantations planted cardamom as a secondary crop.

What is Cardamom in Cooking?

Cardamom is used to season both meat and vegetable dishes predominately in India, Indo-China, and Europe. Scandinavian countries use cardamom in baking cakes and pastries. In some countries it is used to flavor coffees. While it should be used sparingly because of its overpowering presence, it imparts a lemony flavor with a hint of menthol.

The whole pods or just the seeds may be used to flavor Indian curries. Often the seeds are fried in a pan before the main ingredients are added. When the whole pods are employed in cooking, they must be removed after the dish is done to prevent their infusing a bitter flavor into the concoction.


Some of its many other culinary uses are to flavor pickles, wines, custards, and liqueurs. Sometimes it is also simply chewed like a betel nut. An exotic Middle Eastern recipe using cardamom is Shish Kabobs and has the following ingredients and instructions.

  • One pound minced lamb
  • Three cardamom pods
  • One tablespoon of flour
  • One onion
  • One teaspoon of grated ginger
  • Two crushed garlic cloves
  • Two teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • One teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • One teaspoon salt

After grating the onion add it along with the garlic, lemon juice, and flour to the meat and mix thoroughly. Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and mix with the remaining ingredients and knead into the meat. Form the meat around skewers and refrigerate for two hours. Brush with oil and cook on a hot grill until brown.


What is cardamom in dessert? Cardamom gives this cheesecake a light spice flavor, a little different then what most of us commonly use.

  • 1 ¼ Cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Packages (8 ounces each) softened cream cheese
  • 1 Can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 Beaten eggs
  • ½ cup finely chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

Wrap bottom of 9 inch spring form pan with foil pressing to secure it to pan; grease pan.

Combine crumbs, brown sugar and butter in a bowl; press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes; cool on rack.

In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese until smooth; and milk, lemon juice and cardamom mixing well.

Add eggs and beat only to combine; fold in pistachios and pour over the crust.

Place spring form pan in a larger pan; add 1 inch of boiling water to larger pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until center sets and top looks dull.

Remove cheesecake from water in pan; remove foil and set on rack to cool 10 minutes.

Run knife around edges of pan to loosen; cool another 1 hour and refrigerate overnight (Still in pan).

Remove rim of pan and serve with whipped cream and pistachios.

What is Cardamom in Medicinal Usage?

As referenced in the Arabian Nights, cardamom was prized for its aphrodisiac effects in the ancient world. With high concentrations of camphor, eucalyptol, limonene and terpinine, it is a metabolic enhancer and was used as a treatment for obesity. Because of its high volatile oil content, it is used in Asia to treat lung congestion. With a slightly antibiotic effect, it has been used to treat infections and also inflammations. Cardamom has long been used as a digestive aid and to relieve flatulence.

Consequently, the question of what is cardamom has many answers. First and foremost it is a zesty spice that can be used as a seed, ground powder, or whole pod. As with many spices, cardamom has many health benefits as well.


What is cardamom in sausage?

  • 1 Pound ground pork
  • ½ Teaspoon sage
  • 1/8 Teaspoon mace
  • ½ Teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ Teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 Teaspoon dill1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon black pepper

COMBINE ALL ingredients and blend well; shape into patties.

When ready to cook brown on both sides in skillet over medium low heat.


  • 2 ½ Cups flour
  • 2 Packages dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ Cups milk
  • 2/3 Cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Egg white
  • 1 Teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 ¼ Cups flour
  • 1 ½ Cups raisins
  • 1 Beaten egg yolk

Combine 2 ½ cups of flour with yeast.

Heat milk, brown sugar, butter and salt until warm (112F degrees) stirring constantly.

Add milk mixture to the flour yeast mixture; add eggs, egg white and cardamom.

On low speed of mixer beat 1 minute; increase speed to high and beat 3 minutes.

Stir in as much of the remaining flour as possible with a spoon; stir in raisins.

Turn out onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic.

Shape into a ball; place in a greased bowl turning to coat all sides.

Cover and let rise 1 ½ hours; punch down and divide in half.

Cover dough and let set for 10 minutes; set half of dough aside.

Divide remaining half in HALF; cut 1 piece in thirds and roll each third into an 18 inch rope.

Loosely braid the three ropes together; place on a greased baking sheet.

Divide the other piece into 4 pieces; roll 3 pieces into 14 inch ropes.

Braid the 3 ropes together and place ON TOP of the 18 inch braid.

Cut the remaining FOURTH into 3 pieces; roll each piece into 12 inch ropes.

Braid these ropes together; place on top of the second braid on tray.

REPEAT THIS PROCESS with the remaining half of dough.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F degrees.

Cover braids and let rise 30 minutes; brush loaves with beaten egg yolks.

Bake 25 minutes; cool on wire rack.

› Cardamom

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