Cardamom, the Versatile Spice

Cardamom is a versatile spice used in both savory and sweet dishes, on its own or in a spice blend. It's an important spice in Indian cooking, and is essential to chai.

"I like it in anything that would taste good with ginger or black pepper, since to me cardamom has flavors of both," says Pei. "It's good in plain baked goods when you want to add a little flair easily, like in sugar cookies or pound cake." Cardamom pairs well with cinnamon, ginger, pistachios, lemon and lime, and pears, peaches, and figs.

darklyglimmer says this Indian-style rice pudding, with cardamom and coconut milk, is "amazing." acecil loves cranberry sauce sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with orange juice, ground ginger, and cardamom.

nomadchowwoman steeps cardamom in simple syrup, which she drizzles over fresh fruit or mixes with sparkling water, a squeeze of lime juice, and a sprig of mint or basil for a refreshing drink. Rasam uses cardamom simple syrup to sweeten lemonade. Vetter likes to make krupnikas, an Eastern European honey-spice liqueur. "This was a hit for gifts last winter, and right now is the time to start it," she says. "It really improves with sitting."

Hounds like to add a few whole cardamom pods to a pot of rice to scent it. Cardamom works well in rubs for pork, lamb, and poultry and is delicious mixed with butter and tossed with winter squash or carrots, says nomadchowwoman. This cardamom chicken curry, which uses both green and black cardamom pods, is excellent, says bella_sarda.

Discuss: What's with Cardamom?