Simple Cardamom Substitutes for Basmati Rice and Spiced Chai Tea

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Cardamom is a spice that is often found in Indian, Arabic, Middle Eastern, and Scandinavian cuisines and is one of the most costly spices in the world. Cardamom is also often used in hot beverages such as spiced chai teas and Turkish coffees.

Cardamom, like other spices, has a unique scent and taste, but if you run out, there are a few additional spices you may add to your recipe from a well-stocked spice cabinet. Continue reading to discover more about cardamom and the simplest methods to substitute it in your recipes.

Cardamom may be used to flavor curries, pilaus, breads, meatloaves, hamburgers, fish and meat marinades, pickles, soups, and baked goods including apple pies, sweet rice dishes, chocolate cakes, and cookies.

Cardamom is a spice derived from the pods of several plants in the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes ginger and turmeric. These plants are native to India, although they may also be found in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Central America.

Cardamom pods are formed like a spindle and may vary in size and color according on the variety of plant. Cardamom pods contain eight to sixteen little black seeds; both the pods and the seeds are used in cooking. Handpicked from the vines just before they are completely matured, pods are dried before being packed or transported for grinding. The color of dried pods may range from brown when oven dried to green when sun dried.

There are two forms of cardamom: green cardamom and black cardamom. Green cardamom, or Elettaria cardamom, is known as real cardamom and is the one most often seen in grocery shops.

Green cardamom is most often used in Middle Eastern and Scandinavian cuisine because to its pungent perfume and powerful, sweet and pungent taste with warming overtones of camphor, eucalyptus, and lemon. These scents may be found in black cardamom (Amomum subulatum), as well as smokey and cooling menthol overtones.

Thai cardamom is related to green cardamom, although it looks more like garbanzo beans and is dried with wood fires immediately after harvest. Thai cardamom is utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has less camphor and more flowery and citrus aromas when cooked. It also has a less strong odor.

Asian recipes normally specify which sort of cardamom to use, however the black variety, with its smokey taste, is sometimes employed in more savory dishes. Black cardamom is often utilized in sweeter recipes in Southern India.

A white cardamom that has been bleached is also available. This variety of cardamom, which is grown in tropical locations such as Malaysia, has a milder taste than green or black cardamom.

Whole and Ground Cardamom

Whole cardamom pods are often used in curries and with basmati rice, and crushed cardamom is widely used in dessert dishes. After whole cardamom is powdered, it loses taste fast and should only be stored for a few months. You’ll probably need to add more ground cardamom than the recipe calls for since it’s lost part of its taste.

If feasible, purchase entire pods to crush in a grinder or with a pestle and mortar. To get the most taste out of them, roast them before grinding. You may alternatively put the whole pods to the pan and then remove them all before serving. Biting on a cardamom bean is never a pleasant taste sensation!

Six cardamom pods equal about one teaspoon ground cardamom.

Cardamom, both whole and powdered, should be kept in an airtight jar or other airtight container away from heat and light.

Health Benefits of Cardamom

Cardamom has been utilized in traditional medicine for thousands of years and is being used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda Medicine today. While cardamom essential oils should not be ingested, they are known to have anti-microbial action and may kill certain germs and fungus.

Early research suggests that cardamom may be beneficial to heart health, with animal tests indicating that it may enhance cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cardamom may also be beneficial for liver issues, and cardamom is utilized for cleansing in Ayurveda medicine.

Cardamom has also been demonstrated to have some beneficial benefits in those who have metabolic syndrome disorders, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Cardamom has long been used to freshen the breath, and it may be able to battle germs that cause mouth infections, cavities, or gum disease. It is also connected to digestive health, and preliminary research suggests that it may help prevent stomach ulcers.

Substituting Cardamom in Recipes

Like with many spices, the particular taste of cardamom may be difficult to imitate, which is why, depending on the recipe, mixtures might make better alternatives than single spices.

The alternatives listed below are mostly based on green cardamom. You may be possible to substitute black or white cardamom with greed cardamom depending on the cuisine, but the tastes will be different.

1. Cloves and Cinnamon

The strength of cloves combined with the woody and sweet taste of cinnamon delivers a fair reproduction on many of the qualities found in cardamom, making it suitable for substituting cardamom in curries, stews, and other meat and fish dishes.

If the recipe calls for a teaspoon of cardamom, use a quarter teaspoon of ground cloves and a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon instead. If required, add extra after tasting. You should never require more than the quantity of cardamom specified in the recipe.

Cloves are the dried buds of flowers that grow on a myrtle tree and are mostly cultivated in Indonesia and Tanzania. When a baby was born in Indonesia, parents would plant a clove tree, and cloves were known as chicken-tongue spice during the Chinese Han era. Cloves subsequently became an important spice in European trade and are still used in Asian and Sri Lankan spice mixes today.

2. Nutmeg and Cinnamon

While cinnamon may be used in lieu of cardamom to provide some heat to the meal, the addition of nutmeg with its fruit qualities provides additional opportunities to acquire some of the spicy, sweet, and slightly lemony cardamom notes. We buy approximately 10.5 million ounces of cinnamon in the United States each year, and it, along with seasoned salt and chili powder, is the most prevalent spice found in our homes.

Cinnamon is supposed to have indirectly contributed to the discovery of America, since explorers in the fifteenth century explored new regions in search of cinnamon, as well as other spices and wealth!

To replace cardamom with nutmeg and cinnamon, combine equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg. While you may use the same amount of this combination as cardamom, you may want to start with half, taste, and add more if desired.

This substitute works best in sweeter foods and baked products, although it may work in certain curries or stews.

3. Allspice and Peppercorns

Allspice, which is derived from the Pimenta dioica tree, may be used alone in curries, stews, and meat recipes, or it can be combined with an equal quantity of powdered peppercorns for some sharpness.

Allspice, like cardamom, has a rich taste profile, with overtones of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. It’s also fruity and spicy with citrus undertones, which, although still extremely distinct in taste from cardamom, means it may help round out the dish’s characteristics.

Blend that has the potential to dominate the meal. Since peppercorn is a powerful spice, it should be used with cardamom. Use half as much allspice or allspice

4. Cinnamon and Ginger

Since ginger is derived from the same plant species as cardamom, it may be substituted for cardamom in savory meals like those with rice and meats. The ginger adds sweetness and a bite, while the cinnamon complements the tastes and scent of the cardamom.

When substituting ginger, use ground ginger rather than fresh, and combine an equal quantity of ground ginger with the cinnamon. Since ginger and cinnamon have strong scents, you may want to use half the quantity of the combination as you would cardamom. It is simple to add additional if necessary.

5. Nutmeg, Ground Coriander and Peppercorns

This spice mix is considerably more suited to savory foods than some of the ones we’ve described so far. To prepare this mix, combine equal parts nutmeg, powdered coriander powder, and ground peppercorns, then add the same quantity to the recipe as cardamom.

Peppercorns come in a variety of hues, but black pepper is the most popular spice in the United States. Black peppercorns are really green peppercorns cultivated in Brazil, Indonesia, India, or Vietnam that are either freeze-dried or dehydrated to sale as green peppercorns or allowed to dry in the sun until they change into black peppercorns.

Peppercorns have long been an essential spice, and pepper was used as money by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. In 408 AD, when the Visigoths besieged Rome, 3,000 pounds of pepper were demanded as part of the ransom!

6. Other Cardamom Substitutes

Use apple pie spice for sweet meals; it may also be used to sprinkle over desserts that need a dusting of green cardamom powder. If you don’t have apple pie spice on hand, combine half a teaspoon cinnamon, an eighth teaspoon ground allspice, and an eighth teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Cumin may be used in lieu of cardamom in savory recipes, and in fact, cumin is often used as a cardamom substitute in several cuisines. Along with ground cardamom, you may sprinkle ground cumin over savory meals before serving.

Final Verdict

If your recipe calls for cardamom and you’ve run out, you have a few choices depending on whether your dish is sweet or savory.

While no spice has the distinct fragrance and taste of cardamom, a spice mix may assist imitate some of the smells and flavor notes that cardamom would have otherwise contributed to your dish.

Like with any alternative, less is typically more, so start with half the amount of the substitute and gradually increase until you obtain the desired taste profile.


What can I use instead of cardamom for rice?

Alternatives to Cardamom
Cloves, ground.
Sep 12, 2022

What can I use instead of cardamom flavor?

Cinnamon and nutmeg are also often used as cardamom alternatives. While cinnamon is the more common of the two as a solo cardamom substitute, nutmeg is still a popular and very cost alternative.

What can I use instead of cardamom in Indian food?

Suggestions for Cardamom Substitutes

While cardamom is frequently used for its sweet, warm, and spicy qualities, some of the finest alternatives are a blend of spices that provide those characteristics. Some combinations of ingredients include allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, coriander seeds, and cloves.

Can you use ground cardamom instead of pods for chai tea?

4 teaspoon ground cardamom. What can I substitute for cardamom pods? When using cardamom pods in a dish, remove the small, spicy sweet seeds from the pods and smash them. You may use 1 cardamom pod instead of 5 (with the seeds removed and crushed).

What can I use instead of cardamom in chai?

Chai Cardamom Substitutes

If you don’t have cardamom, you may use ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, and allspice. This will result in a delectably spiced chai!

What are different ways to spice up rice?

6 White Rice Substitute Cooking Liquid Upgrades. Infuse your rice with flavored cooking water or use a more fragrant liquid like broth or juice for an easy but noticeable improvement.
Cheese…. Vegetables…. Avocado…. Herbs and spices…. Nopalitos or cactus pads.

Is cardamom important in a recipe?

Cardamom is used in many Indian and Indian-inspired cuisines, including curry, Kheer (Indian rice pudding), and chai. Cardamom is included in Indian spice combinations such as garam masala. Cardamom also provides warmth and richness to baked products like cookies, bread pudding, and even cheesecake.

Can I use ground cloves instead of cardamom?

Cloves with cinnamon

A mixture of cinnamon and cloves may also be used in place of cardamom. Both of these spices are extremely likely to be in your pantry, and they are both less expensive than cardamom. If you want to grind your spices yourself, you can get ground or whole cloves and cinnamon sticks.

Does cinnamon taste the same as cardamom?

Cardamom has the same spicy, fruity taste as ginger. Nevertheless, cinnamon possesses the warm, earthy tastes of cardamom. The nuanced tastes of cinnamon, which are also present in cardamom, will not disappoint. You may combine both spices to get a spice with a taste similar to cardamom.

Is cardamom similar to turmeric?

1- Cardamom, ginger, and turmeric are all members of the Zingiberaceae plant family. Cardamom is available in pods, seeds, and powder form. The fragrant seeds may be found by splitting apart the pods.

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