Cooking with Cardamom

Cardamom adds exotic depth to dishes from all over the world

Native to the Indian subcontinent, cardamom is used to add exotic depth to dishes from all over the world. Its flavor is wonderfully complex—herbal, spicy, floral, and slightly sweet. From rich stews to sweet-savory desserts to refreshing drinks, it has a breadth of potential uses. We’ve rounded up our favorite cardamom recipes from around the world.

Indian food is known for its flavorful spice blends known as masalas, one of the most famous being garam masala; every Indian cook has their own specific recipe. Ours, from famed cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey, is heavy on the cardamom and also contains cumin, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. From India’s west coast we have a recipe for malabar masala, a mixture of coriander, cumin, cloves, mustard seeds, and eleven other spices.

South and Southeast Asian cuisines are known for their curries, many of which are spiced with cardamom. Our Rajasthani white chicken curry isn’t hot, but it’s certainly flavor-packed thanks to black cumin, green and black cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, white peppercorns, white poppy seeds, and other spices. Turning to Thailand, our green chicken curry is made with a homemade curry paste rich with chiles, peppercorn, cilantro, shrimp paste, lime leaves, and more.

And when it comes to sweets, cardamom definitely has its place. Our Vietnamese coffee ice cream has the signature dark-coffee– and-sweetened-condensed-milk–flavor of the drink, and whole cardamom seeds are steeped into the base. Our refreshing sherry granita offsets the sweetness of the dessert wine with black tea and cardamom.

Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of cardamom recipes.

Rock 'N' Rye Peach Jam

Rock 'N' Rye Peach Jam

Cookbook author Cathy Barrow adds rye whiskey and cardamom to this peach jam, giving it a slightly spicy, complex depth.Matt Taylor-Gross
The Soul Train

The Soul Train

Tequila and cardamom is an unexpected combination, but it works beautifully with the help of lime and grapefruit juice.Matt Taylor-Gross
Spiced Chickpeas (Chana Masala)

Spiced Chickpeas (Chana Masala)

It is the food of the poor, the handcart-pullers. A simple chickpea stew, it is called by many names: chana, chole, hara matar when it's green. Its tartness comes from tamarind, pomegranate seeds, green mango powder, or lemon. It can be dry or wet, fortified with potatoes, tomato-red or almost black. Under any name, it feeds India. —Suketu MehtaPenny De Los Santos
Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)

Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer)

This traditional cardamom-scented Indian rice pudding owes its particular richness to the inclusion of whole milk, which has been reduced by half during the cooking process to produce a thick, creamy base.Landon Nordeman
Turkey Momos with Tomato-Cilantro Sauce

Turkey Momos with Tomato-Cilantro Sauce

These steamed, meat-filled Nepalese dumplings come from Binita Pradhan, the entrepreneur behind Bini's Kitchen in San Francisco, CA.Matt Taylor-Gross
Sherry and Cardamom Granita

Sherry and Cardamom Granita

This delicately sweet, icy treat is a mix of spiced black tea and bright sherry.Laura Sant
Cardamom Syrup-Soaked Donuts (Gulab Jamun)

Cardamom Syrup-Soaked Donuts (Gulab Jamun)

In South Asia, gulab jamun, made from a cooked-milk reduction called khoya, are fried at low temperature in clarified butter and soaked in rosewater or cardamom syrup.Todd Coleman
Hot White Chocolate with Cardamom

Hot White Chocolate with Cardamom

White chocolate is the perfect canvas for warm, winter spices such as cardamom and nutmeg.Maxime Iattoni
Nectarine Murabba with Cardamom, Lemon and Rosewater

Nectarine Murabba with Cardamom, Lemon and Rosewater

Ripe nectarines and a touch of rosewater transform into a fragrant condiment that's equally good topping ice cream as it is accompanying grilled meat or fish.Laura Sant
Ricotta Pancakes in Cardamom Syrup (Malpura)

Ricotta Pancakes in Cardamom Syrup (Malpura)

Ricotta pancakes soaked in cardamom syrup and sprinkled with pistachios make a creamy, ethereal dessert.Ariana Lindquist
Pod Thai

Pod Thai

Cardamom-lemongrass syrup lends a bit of Thai spice to a fresh cocktail made with rum and coconut.Helen Rosner
Cardamom-Ginger Crunch

Cardamom-Ginger Crunch

These shortbreads get their spicy kick from ground cardamom and ginger.Todd Coleman
Cardamom Chicken Curry

Cardamom Chicken Curry

This curry from author Monica Bhide is flavored with both green and black cardamom.Todd Coleman
Madison Avenue Manhattan

Madison Avenue Manhattan

Aquavit steeped with dried figs and toasted cardamom adds sweetness and warm spicy notes to this twist on a Manhattan.Helen Rosner

Spiced Tea (Masala Chai)

Spiced Tea (Masala Chai)
Cardamom gives this Indian drink a bright, piney sweetness tempered by a creamy base of evaporated milk and black tea.Todd Coleman
Swedish Cinnamon-and-Cardamom Bread

Swedish Cinnamon-and-Cardamom Bread

Fika means "to drink coffee" in Swedish. But it's more than just that. It's a moment to take a break, chat with friends, and enjoy a pastry—a tradition worth emulating. And one that's charmingly detailed in Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall's upcoming book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break (Ten Speed Press, April 2015). Get a fikasugen (a fika craving) for proper Swedish coffee snacks like this cinnamon-cardamom bread. The yeasty cardamom-spiced dough is cut into a decorative pattern before baking.Romulo Yanes
Braided Cardamom Bread (Pulla)

Braided Cardamom Bread (Pulla)

See Step-by-step instructions on braiding this cardamom-spiced bread, which is eaten with coffee or tea in Finland.Todd Coleman
The Spice Trade

The Spice Trade

Simple syrup infused with anise and cardamom adds depth and sweetness to this genever and persimmon cocktail from Manhattan restaurant The Breslin.Laura Sant
White Chocolate-Cardamom Panna Cotta

White Chocolate-Cardamom Panna Cotta

Sweetened with white chocolate only, this rich, Middle Eastern-inspired panna cotta gets its distinctive floral aroma from an infusion of blistered cardamom.Todd Coleman

Pistachio Ice Cream

Pistachio Ice Cream
Sweetened whole milk flavored with crushed cardamom, saffron, and pistachio is frozen in molds to create these impressive, sculptural desserts.André Baranowski
Sevaya Kheer (Vermicelli Milk Pudding)

Sevaya Kheer (Vermicelli Milk Pudding)

Home cook Yamini Joshi gave us the recipe for this Punjabi dessert of cardamom-spiced milk bolstered by toasted vermicelli noodles, dried fruit, and nuts.Ingalls Photography
Pakistani Lamb Biryani

Pakistani Lamb Biryani

A variety of spices flavor this traditional Pakistani rice dish.Todd Coleman
Spiced Almond Drink (Thandai)

Spiced Almond Drink (Thandai)

This sweet, creamy milk drink is flavored with nuts and mixed with spices such as cardamom, poppy seeds, and rose water.Ingalls Photography
Shortbread and Prune Jam Layer Cake (Vinarterta)

Shortbread and Prune Jam Layer Cake (Vínarterta)

This special-occasion cake features layers of cardamom-scented shortbread baked until golden and lightly crisp, sandwiching homemade prune filling under a thin coffee glaze.Ingalls Photography
Strawberry Compote

Strawberry Compote

Strawberries macerated with gin, lime zest, and cardamom make an unexpected compote. Get the recipe for Strawberry Compote »Todd Coleman

Spiced Buttermilk Oatmeal with Dried Fruit and Pecans

Spiced Buttermilk Oatmeal
Spices including cardamom, star anise, and ginger jazz up a morning oatmeal. Mix the dry ingredients ahead of time for an easier camp-side breakfast.Andre Baranowski
Cardamom-Laced Milk Chocolate Truffles

Cardamom-Laced Milk Chocolate Truffles

Cardamom adds delicate spice to rich chocolate truffles.Todd Coleman
Cardamom Cream Puffs (Semlor)

Cardamom Cream Puffs (Semlor)

As Monica Bhide wrote in her homage to cardamom ("Queen of Spices," April 2010), a love for this spice stretches from South Asia to Scandinavia. These cream-filled, cardamom-scented pastries are traditionally served in Sweden on the day before the beginning of Lent.Todd Coleman

Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh)

Bengali Milk Sweets (Sandesh)
For these simple bite-size confections from Bengal, milk is turned into homemade paneer cheese and then combined with sugar and cardamom to yield a dense, fudge-like treat.Ingalls Photography
Grilled Yogurt-Marinated Lamb Shoulder Chops

Grilled Yogurt-Marinated Lamb Shoulder Chops

These lamb shoulder chops tenderize in a yogurt marinade flavored with cumin and cardamom before grilling.André Baranowski
Amor y Amargo's Amber Vermouth

Amor y Amargo's Amber Vermouth

This homemade fruit-forward vermouth is mixed into cocktails at New York City's Amor y Amargo, where there are 18 European and American vermouths behind the bar. But it is also delicious on the rocks with a twist of orange. For a sweeter version, stir in ¼ cup caramelized sugar when adding the wine.Ingalls Photography
Brother James Cocktail

Brother James

A homemade amber vermouth flavored with juniper and cardamom is the base for this gutsy drink from Manhattan's Amor y Amargo, which opened in 2011 with vermouth on tap and more than 12 bottled varieties. Cardoon-flavored Cardamaro and dry gin play off the vermouth's botanical notes, while celery bitters boosts the drink's herbaceousness.Ingalls Photography
Sichuan Red Chile Oil (Hong You)

Sichuan Red Chile Oil (Hong You)

This ruby red chile- and spice-infused oil is a key ingredient in all kinds of Sichuan dishes.Ariana Lindquist
Rajasthani White Chicken Curry (Safed Maans)

Rajasthani White Chicken Curry (Safed Maans)

Yogurt tempers the heat of this coconut chicken curry, a variation on a classic lamb dish from the state of Rajasthan in western India.James Roper
Kashmiri Chile-Braised Lamb (Rogan Josh)

Kashmiri Chile-Braised Lamb (Rogan Josh)

Smoky red Kashmiri chile powder and rich ghee are the foundations of the sauce for tender lamb shanks in this classic dish served as part of the Kashmiri feast called wazwaan. Cooked for weddings and other auspicious occasions, the wazwaan is comprised of 36 dishes, the majority of them lamb. The wazas, or cooks, who prepare the meal come from long lines of chefs schooled in the art. Get the recipe for Kashmiri Chile-Braised Lamb (Rogan Josh) »Ariana Lindquist

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream
Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams.Laura Sant
Spiced Persimmon Frozen Yogurt

Spiced Persimmon Frozen Yogurt

Classic frozen yogurt gets a boost from floral persimmon and toasted spices.André Baranowski

Spiced Braised Rhubarb

Spice Braised Rhubarb
Orange juice, honey, and spices reduce into an intense syrup while tenderizing the rhubarb in this fruit compote. Get the recipe for Spiced Braised Rhubarb »Todd Coleman
Rhubarb Fizz

Rhubarb Fizz

This bubbly cocktail features champagne, ginger beer, rhubarb, cardamom, and just a hint of vanilla.Helen Rosner
Cilantro Mojo

Cilantro Mojo

Bright, earthy and spicy, this garlicky cilantro sauce hits all the right notes for a summer-time cook-out.Todd Coleman
Spiced Goat and Rice Pilaf (Sindhi Biryani)

Spiced Goat and Rice Pilaf (Sindhi Biryani)

The recipe for this spiced rice dish from Pakistan's Sindh province was given to us by Karachi home cook Najma Awan.Todd Coleman
Hyderabadi-Style Lamb with Potatoes (Aloo aur Gosht ka Kaliya )

Hyderabadi-Style Lamb with Potatoes (Aloo aur Gosht ka Kaliya )

In the Indian city of Hyderabad, this dish is traditionally made using goat, but lamb makes an excellent substitute.Ingalls Photography

Cream of Fennel Soup

Cream of Fennel Soup
This rich, smooth soup balances the gentle flavor of fennel with spices and a bracing addition of Pernod. Get the recipe for Cream of Fennel Soup »Vanessa Rees
Garam Masala Spice Mix

Garam Masala

There are as many versions of this spice mix as there are home cooks in India. Untoasted prior to grinding, this highly aromatic recipe from cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey lends potency to stews, curries, and fried snacks like samosas. "Garam," which means "hot," refers to the combination of spices, which are thought to have body-warming properties in Ayurvedic medicine.Ingalls Photography
Malabar Masala Powder

Malabar Masala

This mixture of coriander, cumin, cloves, mustard seeds, and eleven other spices is wonderful sprinkled on grilled fish, dal, stews, and curries, or as an added seasoning in the spicy Indian snack known as hot mix.Ingalls Photography
Chai Iced Tea

Chai Iced Tea

Judy Haubert's full-flavored chai has plenty of kick, thanks to the addition of black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon, and plenty of other warming spices. This moderately sweet recipe can be adjusted to your taste by either adding or subtracting a quarter cup of the honey or agave nectar.Maxime Iattoni
Curried Lentil with Poached Eggs

Curried Lentils with Poached Eggs

Inspired by the rustic brunch offering at April Bloomfield's Breslin restaurant in New York, this atypical dish would also make for a nice, simple dinner.Maxime Iattoni
Green Curry Chicken

Green Curry Chicken

You can buy the green curry paste to make this Thai classic at any Asian market, but it's so easy to make, and the results are so fragrant and flavorful, that it's more than worth making from scratch.Maxime Iattoni

Iraqi Yellow Spice-Rubbed Chicken (Djaj Bil-Bahar Il-Asfar)

Iraqi Yellow Spice-Rubbed Chicken (Djaj Bil-Bahar Il-Asfar)
This fragrant spice-rubbed grilled chicken was a favorite of former SAVEUR Assistant Editor Felicia Campbell when she was deployed to Iraq.Todd Coleman
Kashmiri Lamb in Chile Sauce (Mirchi Qorma)

Kashmiri Lamb in Chile Sauce (Mirchi Qorma)

Tender lamb simmers in a fiery sauce in this recipe from Adhoo's in Srinagar, Kashmir. Get the recipe for Kashmiri Lamb »Ingalls Photography