If delicate green cardamom pods are the queen of spices, black cardamom might be Maleficent.
Like the Disney character, the spice is shrouded in a black shell, wrinkled and gnarled, intimidating at first glance and even at first sniff.
Unlike green cardamom’s sweet perfume of flowers, pine and lemon, the scent of black cardamom is intense, rooted in smoke, camphor and resin.
Like Maleficent, who apparently only turned to the dark side once her wings were clipped (If the Angelina Jolie film is to be believed!), I like to think that black cardamom was once a happy flowery little pod before being dried over open flames licking at her husks and turning her dark, funky and smoky. This little missy isn’t an inferior version of the queen of spices, as I’ve heard some people assert. She’s her own personality, thank you very much.
Since black cardamom is such an assertive spice, a little goes a long way. And it works especially well in long-cooking preparations, where the full nuance of the little pod can express itself. In India, it is used to flavor aromatic curries and some versions of a warm spice mix called garam masala. It’s also found in Chinese cooking and in one of the most famous dishes of Vietnam, pho.
In your everyday cooking, you could add a pod to your chili, stew or pot roast. Grind up the seeds and add to a flank steak marinade of cumin, cinnamon, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Saute a pod in some ghee or butter before adding rice to make a quick aromatic pilaf.
Or, in a highly unorthodox (but nevertheless tasty!) sweet preparation, pair it with some orange juice, cinnamon and chocolate in this gorgeous flourless chocolate cake.