Spice Corner: Black Cardamom

March 17, 2022 2 Comments

Spice Corner: Black Cardamom
Black Cardamom

Driving south on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago at 6:45 this morning to get my girl to soccer, I was thinking about today's featured spice - Badi Elaichi also known as Kali Elaichi. Badi means big and kali means black in Hindi. Elaichi is the word for cardamom. Black Cardamom is how I typically refer to it in my recipes.  
     With Lake Michigan and the rising sun to my left, it came to me - the essence of this spice. It's like a forest after a rainfall - at once woody, musty, and warm.  This flavor profile is why black cardamom is rarely if ever used in desserts but more in savory dishes like biryani, rice pulau, and curries like matar paneer and chana masala
     Don't confuse these large, brown, wrinkled pods with the smaller and smoother green cardamom ones that you are likely used to - their taste profile is lighter, floral, and perfect in desserts. Why when folks ask me if they can interchange the two in recipes I emphatically say 'no'. 
     While many don't talk about this spice (probably because it's just not as commonly found in mainstream grocers), I always do because using it in your Indian cooking can make the difference between good and restaurant quality. Really! Try it out in my Jeera Chawal (Cumin Rice) (watch the video below) or in my Matar Paneer. You'll see how the deep flavor seeps into every rice grain and spoonful of curry. We do not give them a wack before using them and instead just use them whole. Likely because the taste is so strong that you don't want to overpower your dish. You also don't want to break down the woody exterior and risk the husk ruining your dish. 
     One warning. Remove the pods just before serving your dish. While we like to keep them in to continue to release flavor even in the refrigerator, it's probably one of the worst experiences to chomp into a black cardamom pod while eating. Most Indian food lovers know to push the pods to the side while eating, but if your guests don't they will be in for an unpleasant surprise when biting into them.  
     For a limited time, with every purchase of our products, I'll include a small sample of these gorgeous pods so you can try them out yourself. Just order from my website. You know where to go! 

Watch me use black cardamom pods to make rice! One of the most common ways we use black cardamom pods is in Jeera Chawal, or cumin rice. It's as simple as throwing them into hot oil or ghee. Rice always came with black cardamom, cumin seeds, cloves, and cinnamon sticks when I was growing up. 




2 Responses

Anupy
Anupy

March 18, 2022

Hi Laura. Thank you so much for that feedback. I just love how you describe it as campfire flavor – spot on! Not for every dish, but certainly works well for specific applications. I will have to talk to my husband about using it more on his grilled dishes. On the mustard oil – absolutely! I will absolutely post a blog about mustard oil. I know that I’ve come across the same thing. Many years back there was a slew of illnesses in India from mustard oil, so I believe they started clarifying what was okay to consume and what was more for external use (massage, etc.) But, I will research it a bit for you! Stay tuned.

Laura H.
Laura H.

March 18, 2022

Thanks Anupi! I love black cardamom and I also use it in non-Indian dishes, especially savory bean dishes and anything barbeque, to enhance the smoky, campfire flavor – delicious! Can you someday talk about mustard oil? I’ve run across a recipe here and there that calls for a small amount of it, but the only mustard oil I can find says “for external use only”, even in the oil section of the Indian grocery. Thank-you

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