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INFO: Cardamom

Dried Cardamom

Cardamom is the world's third most expensive spice (after saffron and vanilla). Just as saffron must be pulled thread by thread, each pod of cardamom is hand-picked. However, it's not nearly as expensive as the top two spices. A pound of cardamom pods will cost you $25-30, while a pound of Madagascar vanilla beans will cost you $350 and a pound of spanish saffron would cost you $1500.

Cardamom is native to the mountains of southwest India and could be found only in that region until 1900, when German immigrants brought it to Guatemala, which is now the largest exporter. India remains the largest producer, but due to large domestic demand, most Indian-produced cardamom stays in the country.

According to Harold McGee, the word "cardamom" comes from an Arabic root that means "to warm." However, most other sources list the etymology as Greek: kardamomon, coming from a combination of "kard" (a type of cress) and amomon (an Indian spice). The genus name, Elettaria, comes from the hindi name, "elaichi."

Nordic countries make up 10% of the market for cardamom, using it in baked goods. The largest consumers are Arab countries, which make up 80% of the market for cardamom. Arabs use cardamom to make coffee, called gahwa, which is made by boiling together freshly roasted and ground coffee with freshly broken green cardamom pods.



I have some cardamom pods I got in San Francisco, at that place that sells chaat and Indian ice cream on 16th and Valencia. My mom used to put it in the water to boil rice. If you make rice with cardamom pods and star anise (and optionally a little milk or soymilk), it gives it a really interesting, subtle flavor. Adding coconut milk also makes it richer and more desserty; I bet that would make a nice rice pudding. If you like that sort of thing.

said by Anyanka at 2:13 PM Delete

p.s. don't eat the cardamom pods and star anise - leave them in for color, but they are too big/chewy/crunchy to eat like this.

said by Anyanka at 2:14 PM Delete

That sounds really, really good. I'm sure you can get whole cardamom pods here, too at India Sweets and Spices or one of those places. I love cardamom ... basically I love anything in the ginger family ... spicy-sweetness.

said by KT at 2:18 PM Delete

I once wrote heather a song about cooking indian food. One of the lines was:

"Off to get some cardamom
I must get it for my mom"

Thank you.

said by Jeremy at 10:53 PM Delete

Wow! What a creative rhyming choice, rhyming mom with ... mom.

"Off to get some cardamom,
'Fore I pass out from all the rum."

said by KT at 11:03 PM Delete

That's why it was funny.

Ineptitude is charming and amusing. Right? RIGHT???

said by Jeremy at 9:02 AM Delete

It is to me! I could never like anyone who wasn't fallible because eventually I would have to kill them. Perfect people are also annoying as hell.

said by KT at 9:30 AM Delete

Of course, I should probably mention that I used to cook indian food a lot . . . back when I lived in DC and when we first moved here to S.F. Haven't actually made it in a long time . .

said by Jeremy at 12:07 PM Delete

I don't think I'veever made Indian food! I made a coconut curry chicken one time, but I think it most resembled chicken rendang, which is Malaysian.

God that was good ... but you needed so many ingredients to make it!

said by KT at 12:13 PM Delete

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