Indian Cooking with Cardamom (Elaichi): Things to Know

Cardamom is a flavourful spice extensively used in Indian cuisines. It is sourced from the seed pods of different plants belonging to the ‘Ginger’ family.

Cardamom, known as elach in Bengali and elaichi in Hindi, is considered one of the most ancient and expensive spices in the world.

Cardamom, justifiably called the “Queen of All Spices” infuses an aromatic twist and taste in any dish it is added to.

Uses of Cardamom in Indian Cuisines

Indian Cooking with Cardamom

Cardamom came to India all the way from Central Asia, with the Mughal invasion. For its wonderful flavour, cardamom finds versatile uses in Indian cuisines, from masala chai to delicious gravies to delectable desserts.

Cardamom comes in mainly two varieties – green and black. Another type, white cardamom, is also available though it is a bleached variety of green cardamom.

Green cardamom is called true cardamom. It is the most common variety. Green cardamom is a preferred choice for deserts though also imparts its humble touch to savoury delicacies.

White cardamom has mild flavour. The smoky flavour of black cardamom makes it a perfect pick for savoury dishes.

However, it is also used in certain sweet delicacies. Black cardamom is more prevalent in South Indian cuisines.

Cardamom is a part of garam masala, a mix of many spices. Cardamom powder is added directly to recipes.

However, when pods are used, curries and gravies are blessed with an enhanced flavour.

The best thing about cardamom is that even a pinch gives a punch. It has such a strong flavour that even a little means a lot. Cardamom, saffron and nutmeg – they make a flavourful trio to perk up flavours of many Indian deserts.

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So, whether it is simple basundi or exotic amrit peda, cardamom brews the ultimate magic.

Malai kulfi, an Indian answer to ice cream, is blessed with the flavourful touch of cardamom, though the spice is used in a very small quantity. Small makes many things beautiful and flavourful; cardamom makes a good example of it.

Cardamom is a versatile spice. It works as a garnishing agent on certain deserts. For example, jalebis.

It also makes its way to paratha. Puran poli, a kind of paratha, tastes delicately sweet, thanks to the overpowering flavour of cardamom.

Cardamom is one of the species regularly used in many Indian kitchens. A variety of Punjabi curries uses either whole or ground cardamom for enhanced flavour.

Just like many Indian desserts, an array of Indian savoury dishes makes a good use of flavourful trio – cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.

Some traditional, quintessential Punjabi dishes also borrow the unforgettable flavours from these whole spices.

Many Maharashtrian, Mughlai and South Indian delicacies have the fortune of playing with the flavours of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.

Cardamom is used in tandem with these two ingredients in savoury dishes whereas in deserts, it is a host in itself. Adding the whole spices always enhances the flavours a few notches up.

Ma Ki Dal, an age-old nostalgia, tastes yummy with cardamom. Though a pinch of cardamom is used, it leaves its signature in every slurp.

Cardamom powder is usually used in kebabs and dry sabjis whereas the whole cardamom pods lend their generous touch to curries and gravies.

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Kashmiri kahwa is a famous drink in the “Switzerland of India”. Without cardamom, masala chai cannot whip up the unforgettable magic.

What is the Taste of Cardamom?

Cardamom has a warm, slightly sweet, and spicy taste with hints of lemon and mint.

It is a highly aromatic spice with a complex flavor profile that is both refreshing and pungent.

Cardamom is used in many cuisines around the world and is commonly found in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Scandinavian dishes.

Its flavor is often described as intense and fragrant, and it is used to add depth and complexity to both sweet and savory dishes.

In addition to its culinary uses, cardamom is also valued for its medicinal properties and is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

What Foods Go Well with Cardamom?

Cardamom is a versatile spice that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, and it pairs well with a wide range of ingredients. Here are some foods that go well with cardamom:

Baked goods: Cardamom is a common ingredient in Scandinavian and Middle Eastern baked goods, such as sweet bread, buns, and cookies.

Rice dishes: Cardamom is often used to flavor rice dishes, such as biryani, pilaf, and risotto.

Curry: Cardamom is a key ingredient in many Indian curries, particularly those made with lamb or chicken.

Chai (tea): Cardamom is a traditional ingredient in Indian chai (tea), where it adds a warm, spicy flavor.

Desserts: Cardamom pairs well with sweet flavors, making it a popular ingredient in desserts such as cakes, pastries, and ice cream.

Meat dishes: Cardamom can be used to flavor meat dishes such as lamb, chicken, and beef.

Vegetables: Cardamom can also be used to add flavor to vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.

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Overall, cardamom is a versatile spice that can be used in a variety of dishes to add depth and complexity to the flavor profile.

Questions & Answers:

Do Cinnamon and Cardamom Go Together?

Yes, you can see in a variety of masalas that both cardamom and cinnamon are going together, especially you can see in Indian Garam Masala.

Is Cardamom Better Than Cinnamon?

Cardamom and cinnamon are both having a different taste and each of these are used for a variety of purposes. Though cardamon is much more expensive than cinnamon.

What is Cardamom Called in Different Languages?

Cardamom is an English word and it is known as Elach in Bengali and Elaichi in Hindi.


Cardamom is a versatile and flavorful spice that is extensively used in Indian cuisines.

It is sourced from the seed pods of different plants belonging to the ginger family and is considered one of the most ancient and expensive spices in the world.

Cardamom comes in mainly two varieties, green and black, and it has a warm, slightly sweet, and spicy taste with hints of lemon and mint.

Cardamom is a highly aromatic spice with a complex flavor profile that pairs well with a wide range of ingredients.

It is used in a variety of dishes, including baked goods, rice dishes, curries, chai, desserts, meat dishes, and vegetables.

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