Cardamom - food

Cardamom is widely used as a flavouring for savoury and sweet dishes in South Asia and the antibacterial properties of its oil are exploited as a food preservative.

Flavouring

The dried fruits and seeds of cardamom are used to add a unique taste to rice, meat, vegetables and other savoury dishes. Whole and ground cardamom seeds are added to flavour coffee, tea, confectionery and baked goods. It is highly valued in Kashmir as an essential ingredient of the drink kahwa which is fragrant and sweet Kashmiri black tea.
A page from the Nimmatnamah or Book of Recipes, a Persian work which gives the recipe for making paan.
Cardamom is included as an ingredient in this ancient paan recipe.

Cardamom essential oil is produced in small quantities in India. It is mainly used in the flavouring of processed foods and drinks such as cordials, bitters and liqueurs and occasionally in perfumery.

Cardamom oleoresin has similar applications to the essential oil. It is mainly used to flavour meat products with a short shelf life, such as sausages.

Preservative

Because the oil has antibacterial activity it has been added to foods as a preservative at low levels. It is used in low quantities so it doesn't taint the flavour of the food.

Breath freshener

Although not strictly a food use, the aromatic properties of cardamom are utilised as a breath freshener. It is frequently chewed after meals and may sometimes be included as a flavouring in a betel quid. It is also used to a small extent to flavour tobacco.

Types of cardamom

Green cardamoms are the 'true' dried cardamom fruits and are sweetly fragrant with a slightly pungent flavour. Brown or black varieties of cardamom are larger, coarser in flavour and scent and tend to be used more in meat dishes and pickles. These 'false' cardamoms are found in South Asia, China, Nepal, Indonesia, and Africa.