Green cardamom pods are widely available globally and used in many dishes. Black cardamoms, which are much bigger, with larger seeds and a different flavor, are not as universally used as organic green cardamom pods. In fact, they come from different plants of the same family.
The use of cardamom was known in the Bronze Age. Ancient cultures like Indian, Greek, Roman, Egyptians, Chinese used cardamom, and it was an important part of the spice trade. It was highly prized due to its taste and health benefits and was considered a luxury and even taxed.
Though green cardamom is native to India (growing largely in South India) and Indonesia, it is also highly cultivated in Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Tanzania and Malaysia. Black cardamom requires a different temperature for growing and it grows abundantly in Nepal, Bhutan, the Himalayan region, India and China.
What are the Main Differences?
There are many differences between organic green cardamom pods and organic black cardamom in terms of appearance, plants, usage and flavor.
Green cardamom comes from the elettaria cardamomum plant. Black cardamom belongs to the amomum subulatum or the amomum tsao-ko plants. Though called black cardamom, it is actually very dark brown in color.
Organic green cardamom has a delicate aroma, with floral and eucalyptus notes. Black cardamom has a strong, pungent and smoky flavor with menthol notes.
Green cardamom pairs well with sweet and savory dishes and it is often an essential ingredient in Indian sweetmeats and milk-based desserts. Black cardamom is used in garam masala and spice blends and in rice dishes, in meat and chicken and even vegetables as its intense flavor goes well with savory dishes.
The seeds of both can be lightly crushed or powdered to release all the flavors before being added to foods. You can use the outer covering of both kinds in infusions where they can be easily strained out to add some flavor. There are many dishes in which cardamom stands out and is the dominant flavor. Or it may complement other flavors.
While you can use green cardamom in savory dishes, particularly if you don’t have the black variety, you should avoid using black cardamom in sweet dishes because it has an overwhelmingly smoky flavor that may spoil the taste of the dish. You can use a mix of green and black cardamoms in many foods for paired yet different cardamom flavors.
Black cardamom is more than 4 times the size of the small and delicate looking green cardamom pods. Its outer layer is highly fibrous and is often discarded before eating. However both cardamom varieties can be split and used whole for greater flavor. The seeds of the black cardamom are also much bigger.
Powder or pod:
Black and green cardamom seeds can be lightly crushed to release the flavor and used. Or you can get ready-made cardamom powder. However, freshly ground or crushed cardamom seeds have a better flavor. Ready to use powder loses aroma rapidly, even if it is tightly sealed, and you will have to use more of it.
You can use the whole pods or split the pods of both varieties of cardamom and use in dishes where it can be discarded as the cardamom coverings also have some aroma. If removing and using only seeds from the whole cardamoms, you can put the pod covers in sugar or dry tea to yield a subtle flavor to the sugar or tea when used.
While cardamom is a favored ingredient in tea and its varieties like masala chai are very popular, in many Middle Eastern countries, cardamom is paired with coffee for its distinctive taste.
Health Benefits of Organic Cardamom:
Both varieties of cardamom offer health benefits. Some are common and some are different. The seeds are full of essential oils that are useful for a number of disorders.
- Digestion – while both cardamoms help in digestion and reduce gas formation, black cardamom also helps with both constipation and diarrhea. Green cardamom is also useful in combating nausea and vomiting.
- Breath freshener – cardamom seeds counter bad breath. Green cardamom seeds are easier to chew and more delicious as black cardamom seeds can be bitter and pungent.
- Insomnia – the seeds from green cardamom pods help you get sound sleep as they counter insomnia.
- Blood pressure – studies have shown that green cardamom powder actually helps reduce blood pressure in patients of hypertension.
- Anti-bacterial – cardamom seeds have a positive effect against E.Coli and Staph infections. Essential oils present in cardamom combat Salmonella and Campylobacter food-borne infections.
- Detoxification – cardamom helps flush out toxins since it is a diuretic and also cleanses the liver. Cardamom also has many antioxidants and these prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation.
- Sexual function – people living in the Middle East believe that cardamom has aphrodisiacal properties and improves sexual function and libido.
If you are not familiar with cardamom, then explore the wonderful ways it can enhance your food, making it more delicious and also improve your health.