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.
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. Get the recipe for Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer) »
Cardamom-lemongrass syrup lends a bit of Thai spice to a fresh cocktail made with rum and coconut.
These shortbreads get their spicy kick from ground cardamom and ginger.
This curry from author Monica Bhide is flavored with both green and black cardamom.
Aquavit steeped with dried figs and toasted cardamom adds sweetness and warm spicy notes to this twist on a Manhattan.
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. Get the recipe for Swedish Cinnamon-and-Cardamom Bread »
Simple syrup infused with anise and cardamom adds depth and sweetness to this genever and persimmon cocktail from Manhattan restaurant The Breslin.
Sweetened with white chocolate only, this rich, Middle Eastern-inspired panna cotta gets its distinctive floral aroma from an infusion of blistered cardamom.
Sweetened whole milk flavored with crushed cardamom, saffron, and pistachio is frozen in molds to create these impressive, sculptural desserts.
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.
Get the recipe for Pakistani Lamb Biryani »
This sweet, creamy milk drink is flavored with nuts and mixed with spices such as cardamom, poppy seeds, and rose water.
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.
We based this recipe on one that appears in Peter Greweling’s Chocolates and Confections (Wiley, 2010). Feel free to improvise with the coating, using other kinds of ground spices, nuts, or chili powder. Make sure to keep all your materials cold while you’re mixing and shaping the truffles, so that the candies keep their shape; if they get too warm, refrigerate ingredients for 5-10 minutes. Get the recipe for Cardamom-Laced Milk Chocolate Truffles »
Cardamom Cream Puffs (Semlor)
These lamb shoulder chops tenderize in a yogurt marinade flavored with cumin and cardamom before grilling.
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.
Cardoon-flavored Cardamaro and dry gin play off the vermouth’s botanical notes, while celery bitters boosts the drink’s herbaceousness. Get the recipe for Brother James »
This ruby red chile- and spice-infused oil is a key ingredient in all kinds of Sichuan dishes.
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) »
Classic frozen yogurt gets a boost from floral persimmon and toasted spices.
This bubbly cocktail features champagne, ginger beer, rhubarb, cardamom, and just a hint of vanilla.
Bright, earthy and spicy, this garlicky cilantro sauce hits all the right notes for a summer-time cook-out.
In the Indian city of Hyderabad, this dish is traditionally made using goat, but lamb makes an excellent substitute.
There are thousands of variations on garam masala, but Keralan versions tend to emphasize star anise and cardamom.
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.
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. Get the recipe for Chai Iced Tea »
Curried Lentil with Poached Eggs
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.