Black vs Green Cardamom: The Aromas and Tastes

Thursday 06 July 2023
Black vs Green Cardamom: The Aromas and Tastes

In the world of cardamom, there are five different types of cardamom. But only two cardamoms are the most popular ones - green cardamom and black cardamom. If you are wondering about the differences between these two cardamoms, then we got you! In this blog, we will compare both black cardamom and green cardamom. 

What are Black Cardamom Pods?

Black cardamom pods are a kind of spice that people love to use in cooking. They come from a plant that grows in the eastern Himalayas, which is a mountain range in Asia. This plant is related to ginger and turmeric.

The pods are the part of the plant that we use. The farmers harvest them from the dried fruits of the plant. The pods are bigger and tougher than the ones from another kind of cardamom called green cardamom. You can tell black cardamom pods apart because they are dark brown or black.

Inside the pods, there are small, fragrant seeds that give black cardamom its special flavor. People in different countries, like India, Nepal, Bhutan, and parts of China, use black cardamom in their cooking because it adds a unique taste and smell to their dishes.

What are Green Cardamom Pods?

Green cardamom is a soothing spice that comes from India. It's the kind that is used most often in cooking and baking. The part of the plant we use is called the pod, and it's small and shaped like a triangle.

The pods are pale green, and inside are tiny seeds that smell nice—like sweet flowers.

When we taste green cardamom, it's like a mix of different flavors! It's a bit citrusy, like oranges or lemons, and a bit minty and herbal, like some plants. But the best part is that it also has a delicate sweetness.

That's why we like to use green cardamom in many types of dishes—both sweet ones, like desserts, and savory ones, like curries.

Even in drinks like chai tea, green cardamom makes them taste yummy! So, next time you eat something with this spice, pay attention to all the wonderful flavors it adds to the food!

What Are the Differences Between Green and Black Cardamom?

Although both cardamoms belong to the Zingiberaceae family and share some similarities, they offer unique sensory experiences that set them apart.

Here are some differences between black and green cardamom: 

Flavour Profile

Black Cardamom 

Black cardamom has a strong and intense taste, which is very different from green cardamom. It's like the spice world's bold and smoky flavor! The seeds inside the pods have a unique scent, a bit like camphor and eucalyptus. This special smoky flavor comes from how they are dried—over open flames or in smokers.

Green Cardamom

Now, green cardamom is a little different. It has a delicate and gentle flavor that is sweet, floral, and a little spicy. Imagine a spice that's like a mix of fruits, with hints of citrus and mint—that's green cardamom! It's lovely in all kinds of dishes.

Culinary Uses

Black Cardamom

Because of its strong taste, black cardamom is great for savory dishes like curries and stews. It adds depth and a rich flavor to the food, especially in Asian cuisines from South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Since it can handle long cooking times, its yummy taste gets mixed into the dish.

Some of the culinary uses of black cardamom are:

  1. Hearty stews: Black cardamom's robust and smoky flavor adds depth and complexity to hearty stews, especially in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines.
  2. Meat-based curries: Their strong taste pairs well with meat, enhancing the flavors in curries and meat dishes.
  3. Rice dishes: Black cardamom imparts a rich aroma to rice-based dishes like pilafs and biryanis.
  4. Spice blends: It is commonly used in spice blends like garam masala and other savory mixtures to enhance the overall flavor.
  5. Grilled or smoked dishes: Due to its smokiness, you can use it in marinades for grilled or smoked meats.

Green Cardamom

People use green cardamom in both sweet and savory recipes. You'll find it in desserts like pastries, ice creams, and even chai tea, which makes it taste so good! It's also part of spice blends like garam masala, which is famous in Indian cooking.

Some of the culinary uses of green cardamom are:

  1. Desserts: Green cardamom's sweet, floral, and slightly spicy taste makes it a perfect addition to desserts like cakes, cookies, and puddings.
  2. Chai tea: The aromatic and refreshing flavor of green cardamom is a key component in the famous Indian chai tea.
  3. Sweet treats: It is used in ice creams, custards, and other sweet treats to add a unique flavor.
  4. Beverages: You can infuse green cardamom into hot or cold drinks for a delightful taste, like lemonades or mocktails.
  5. Aromatic rice dishes: In certain aromatic rice dishes, green cardamom complements the other fragrant spices.

Medicinal Benefits

Black cardamom is great for digestion. The spicy and smoky taste of black cardamom helps our stomach work better, making digestion easier. They would make a special tea with the pods and hot water to soothe stomach discomfort and make bowel movements better.

In China, they also use black cardamom to strengthen the stomach and spleen, which are important parts of digestion. It's like giving your tummy a boost to stay healthy.

Black cardamom is also known for its ability to help with breathing problems like asthma. It can clear mucus and make it easier to breathe. That's why they use it in remedies to ease asthma symptoms and make breathing better.

On the other hand, green cardamom has a place in traditional medicine. It's known for helping people relax and sleep better. The sweet and calming smell of green cardamom can make you feel peaceful, helping you fall asleep and fight insomnia.

You can make warm milk or herbal teas with green cardamom to experience its sleepy powers.

Learn more about the many health benefits of black cardamom. We have a dedicated blog about this topic. Go Check it Out!

Aromatic Properties and Essential Oils

Black Cardamom

When you crush the big, dark brown or black pods, they release a powerful fragrance. It's like a mix of smoky and earthy scents, with a hint of camphor and a woody smell. This strong smell makes black cardamom perfect for savory dishes and spice blends.

The main essential oil in black cardamom is called 1,8-cineole, and it's the reason for the smoky and camphor-like scent.

Black cardamom also has essential oils, but not as much as green cardamom. The main one in black cardamom is called 1,8-cineole, and it's the reason for its smoky smell. Even though it has fewer oils, it's still great for cooking and medicine.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda (ancient healing practices), black cardamom's essential oils are valued for helping with digestion and breathing. The 1,8-cineole can make it easier for us to breathe, and it might also fight against germs to keep us well.

Green Cardamom

When you crush the pods or grind the seeds, they release a fresh and energizing fragrance. It smells a bit like citrus fruits, mint, and some herbs. This special smell makes green cardamom perfect for all kinds of foods, like desserts, chai tea, and even savory dishes.

The reason it smells so good is because of the essential oils it has, like limonene, cineol, and terpinene. These citrusy oils are good for our bodies because they have antioxidants that keep us healthy.

Cineol (also called eucalyptol) helps with inflammation and can make breathing easier. Terpinene is useful, too, as it fights against certain germs and helps keep our mouths healthy.

Learn why cardamom is a must-have in your spice rack. We have delved into this in great detail on our other blog.

Which is the Best Cardamom for you?

When it comes to choosing the best cardamom for you, whether black or green, it ultimately depends on your culinary preferences and the specific dishes you wish to enhance. Both black cardamom and green cardamom have unique aromas and tastes that cater to different culinary applications.

If you want a strong-flavored dish, you can always use black cardamom in your dishes. And, if you wish for a sweet and calming taste, then green cardamom is your spice!