What if you suddenly discovered that you do not have black cardamom in your kitchen anymore, are there good alternatives? Well, there is! Some of the best black cardamom substitutes are cinnamon, mace, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, coriander seeds, etc.
Forget about the mystifying taste and the versatileness of this awesome ingredient. Do you know cardamom is regarded as one of the most expensive spices in the world?
Well, only a few other spices like Saffron and Vanilla are pricier.
Worst case scenario, it is mostly cherished in all cuisines around the globe, so the demand for it is ridiculously high.
Since it is treasured like gold in the spice realm, you might want to consider a pocket-friendly alternative like the ones listed in this article.
Let’s quickly check them out!
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What Is Black Cardamom?
Black Cardamom is a type of cardamom from the family of Zingiberaceae that is intensely dried, and the seeds are extracted from the pods.
Black Cardamom is mostly cultivated in India, Bhutan, and Eastern Nepal. Its flavor is perhaps the most challenging to describe.
Some say it tastes like a combination of ginger and cinnamon. Others gushed it is more of a minty flavor with hints of lemon.
Whereas many chortled it to be a mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Well, this prodded seed is truly unique if it keeps everyone’s hand on their jaw.
But from what I’ve tasted as well as other profound chefs, black cardamom has a strong mint and a smokey flavor, more pungent than its greeny version.
And due to its smoky flavor, it is ideal for braised meats and savory recipes.
Note there are various types of cardamom, from white, green, to black.
Usually, black cardamom pods are huge compared to green cardamom and sustain a brown to black color.
You can either use them as a whole and remove them afterward or remove the seeds from the hull first, then grind them into powder before adding them to your favorite curries or masala recipes.
Although we recommend lightly toasting the pods in a dry pan to amplify their flavor and aroma before usage.
Furthermore, you can use this extra-special spice to add warmth to not only savory dishes but sweet recipes as well.
Whether it is challah and roast poultry, rice pudding, hot chocolate, blondies, snickerdoodles, and more.
Just think about any creative ways you can use black cardamom: in soups, chowders, marinades, casseroles, cakes, payasam — just keep naming.
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10 Most Preferred Black Cardamom Substitutes
Here are the various black cardamom alternatives you should really check out:
Cinnamon is apparently one of the best substitutes for black cardamom. The key difference between cardamom and cinnamon is the former is more vitamins and minerals.
But as for taste, they are relatives. While they might not have the same flavor, they are identical in their sweetness.
Cinnamon has a sweet woody flavor and a slight citrusy note. Plus, its spicy taste feels like the punch of cloves in your mouth.
You can use either ground or stick cinnamon; it doesn’t matter. The only difference is in texture and the way they are used. Flavor-wise they typically taste the same.
I bet you’ve loved them in apple dessert, cookies, rice pudding, French toast, churros, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato pie, and drink as well.
Who doesn’t know nutmeg?
If you are conversant with this famous spice, merely calling its name may jog your memory of its earthy, mild nutty sweetness.
Nutmeg is also seen as a sweet seasoning — not your typical sugary sweet product.
But it is nuttier, which is why it is suitable for both savory and sweet dishes, whether for complementing meats, sausages, hearty soups or stews, vegetables, potatoes, sauces, beef, puddings, and baked products.
It could be purchased as a whole seed or ground spice. Whichever one would serve as a suitable substitute for cardamom since they both share a similar flavor profile.
To substitute it for cardamom, use a 1:1ratio.
Next is the reddish seed covering of nutmeg seed: Mace.
Surprisingly, this product of nutmeg fits the same flavor profile as cardamom.
Unlike nutmeg, it is less intense and concentrated with the hint of cinnamon and black pepper.
With its delicate taste, it can add delight to most baked goods, vegetables, meat, fish, and in preserving and pickling.
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Searching for what to use in place of cardamom that adds complex flavor to meats, desserts, or beverages?
Trust me; clove does the trick better!
This aromatic flower bud is from a tree in the Myrtaceae that also has a slightly bitter and astringency undertone like cardamom.
You can never go wrong with clove. The intensely aromatic notes also have a subtly sweet flavor that brings plenty of warmth to any dish, whether it is for marinades, fish, stews, fruits, drinks, pies, mulled wine, rice, or Chai.
Aside from that, it is highly medicinal and collaboratives with other slight sweet spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.
When substituting for cardamom, use it in small quantities as it has a more powerful flavor.
Allspice is obtained from dried berries. The flavor immediately reminds you of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, together with pepper.
They are perfect alternatives for cardamom whole or grounded.
If you’re using it whole, you should accompany it with some cloves for an extra kick of flavor for your lamb meat or beef.
As for the grounded, you can use them directly in baked products, soups, stew, meat, and veggies, or for seasoning glazes and sausage for ham.
Additionally, allspice is the key ingredient in Jamaican jerk seasoning – jampacked with the fiery mixture that spice up pork or chicken for an instant street party.
Although allspice is more intense in flavor than cardamom hence, it should be used with utmost care.
Related Post: Can You Use Mixed Spice Instead of Allspice?
6. Coriander Seeds
Coriander is another interesting substitute for black cardamom with a similarly sweet, aromatic taste, though with a hint of citrus.
This ingredient is native to the Mediterranean and Southern Europe region. You can either use them as whole seeds and ground too.
And it is fantastic in most cardamom dishes, be it soups, stews, stir-fries, Indian curries, marinades, pickling vegetables, or baked goods,
Ginger also strikes a balance of sweet peppery flavor as well as a spicy aroma. It is packed with medicinal properties and is widely used for seasoning in most recipes.
It is available in fresh, dried, candied, pickled, preserved, or as a powder, which can be used for meat, vegetable, including seafood dishes.
However, ground ginger is often used in western cooking to spice cookies, quick bread, and beverages.
This flowering plant is also pungent. And belonging to the family of turmeric and cardamom makes it an excellent choice.
Galangal — a spice native to southern Asia, is another good black cardamom replacement. It is a cousin to ginger and turmeric but has a white smoother flesh that is more dense than ginger.
Whenever I can’t get my hands on cardamom and galangal seems to be around, I unhesitatingly use them. And I have seen most avid home cooks confess it to be a great substitute.
Although, there are tons of galangal, each with a different flavor.
But generally, galangal tastes peppery than ginger with a slightly sweet hint.
You will love them in sauces (satay sauce dishes), curries, noodles, TomYum soup, and stir-fries.
Aside from being used as a staple ingredient, it’s an amazing remedy in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
We recommend you use them in smaller quantities. And since the flesh is a bit harder, it is best if you remove pieces of it. Or you can apply the grounded form in your dishes.
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Cumin might belong to the parsley family, but the hearty sweet-bitter earthy flavor could trade place with the mint and smoky black cardamom.
It’s a famous staple in Indian, Last American, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisine.
You can either use it as whole seeds or grounded to add instant depth to any dish —meat, rice, vegetable, soups, sauces, pickling, pastries, and whatnot.
I particularly love them for empanadas or tamales. Or in refried beans, tortilla soup, and chili.
10. Apple Pie Spice
The apple pie spice is more suitable for substitution for black cardamom if used in sweet dishes —like cookies, muffins, pies, smoothies, or cupcakes — or else, you will have to add other spices like clove or ginger.
A pinch of this spice smell like cardamom.
It is a delectable blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. And can be purchased in the spice aisle of any grocery store.
Moreover, you have all the right to adjust the spices in the mixture to suit your taste.
And here is a list of other mixtures of spices you can try:
- 1 teaspoon allspice=1 teaspoon cardamom.
- ½ teaspoon cloves+1/2 teaspoon nutmeg=1 teaspoon cardamom.
- 1 teaspoon coriander+1/2 teaspoon cumin=1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon galangal=1 teaspoon cardamom.
- ¼ teaspoon coriander+¼ teaspoon nutmeg+1/2 teaspoon allspice=1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon+½ teaspoon nutmeg=1teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon+1/4 teaspoon nutmeg+ 1/4 teaspoon cloves+1/4 teaspoon allspice =1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon mace=1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon +1/2 teaspoon ginger=1 teaspoon cardamom
Earlier, we mentioned that cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world. Average Avid home cooks like you and me might not be able to afford it, at least not as often as we would love to.
Aren’t you curious to know why?
Frankly, there is nothing too extraordinary.
The major reason cardamom is pricier than other spices is because of its harvest method.
Cardamom is hand-harvested, which is time and energy-consuming. The intense labor, care, and time put is only what made cardamom costly than other traditional spices that are harvested by automated means.
And even though you can afford it, you might not be able to grab it as it drops, as other food enthusiasts are tapping their feet on its arrival.
So seeking good black cardamom substitutes might just be your best move.
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