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Warming and Flavorful Spice for Your Cooking

A warm aromatic spice

While better known today because of its addition to Chai drinks and Indian cuisine, cardamom has long been a favorite in Scandinavian kitchens and in my kitchen, too. It add a “je ne sais quoi” to many dishes ranging from the well known Chai beverages to such diverse cuisines as Scandinavian, Indian, and Israeli.

In fact, it is a favored spice in many Middle Eastern recipes, and is sold in open markets there. One of the best places to purchase the spice here in the USA is from an Indian grocery, although Amazon is quick and easy. And most spice displays in your grocery carry it, too. “Decorticated” ground spice seems more flavorful, although you can also buy the pods and grind them yourself.

For me, Christmas baking just isn’t the same without my Cardamom rolls and Cardamom spiced cookies. I want to share the delightful and fragrant spice with you, whether it is an old favorite or new to your taste buds.


Cardamom is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

More about the Health Benefits – Cardamom Spice

  1. Cardamom is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
  2. The pods are rich in many vital vitamins including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C
  3. Improves digestion and stimulates the metabolism
  4. Reputedly used in love potions as found in the tales of the Arabian Nights, which make frequent reference to it.

Scandinavian Cuisine – Cardamom is no secret there…

Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Danes all use cardamom in their cuisine. These cooking traditions are world famous for their baking and coffee drinking is part of their culture. It is common to invite people over for coffee and cakes, an intrinsic part of the hospitable culture. Spicing up the cookies or coffee with cardamom can be one of the delightful elements of this repast. (Try a dash of cardamom in your coffee for a real taste treat!)

The Rolls No One Can Resist

Warm rolls from the oven

Warm from the oven cardamon rolls

A Family Tradition At Christmas

I bake it as a traditional Christmas ritual, and this is a wonderful recipe for anytime you wish to bake it, although for us it is part of our Christmas Eve celebration. My family loves the warm spicy taste of the cardamom mixed with fresh yeasty sweet bread and sprinkled with slivered almonds. I prefer not to glaze the rolls, but sprinkle with an almond/sugar mixture.

Here is a simpler version than the one I bake.


Ground cardamom flavors yeast breads with a sweet, yet refreshing, nuance. Cardamom bread, a traditional Swedish baked good, is often flavored with a combination of cardamom and almonds.

Serving Size

Serves: 16 rolls


  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 cup unsalted butter + more for buttering pans
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 1/2 cups flour + more for kneading
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (about 110°). Let sit until foamy bubbles form on surface, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 cup butter in a pan over low heat and let cool just until warm. Let remaining 1/2 cup butter soften in a warm place until spreadable.
  2. To the yeast, add melted butter, granulated sugar, eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 4 1/2 cups flour, and salt. Stir or mix in a standing mixer with a dough hook until smooth, 5 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Butter two 9-in. cake pans. When dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 2-ft. square, spread with softened butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar and cardamom. Roll dough into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Cut log into 16 pieces and arrange, cut sides up, in a single layer in cake pans. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove plastic wrap from rolls and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make glaze: Whisk together 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Remove rolls from pans and drizzle with half of this thin glaze. Add remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar to remaining glaze and drizzle over rolls. Serve warm.

If you are interested in using my recipe I have it online.

Christmas Cardamom Rolls

Cardamom Seeds (Decorticated) Whole

Arabic Flavor

Scandinavians aren’t the only culture to have an affinity for Cardamom- let the Arabic culture show their use of this aromatic spice.

American cooks often are not familiar with this culinary treat. Trying Arabic, Scandinavian, and Indian dishes will familiarize this addition which flavors breads, stews, and desserts with equal flair.

To get you started, an easy and well-loved dish is the following custard variation.

Middle Eastern Dream Custard

alt=”photo by phdstudent on Flickr” width=”240″ height=”180″ /> photo by phdstudent on Flickr

Serving Size


Cardamom and Rosewater Lend Luxury Scent and Flavor

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons custard powder (commercial)
  • 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • Ground pistachios (optional)


  1. Put milk, sugar and cardamom into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat.
  2. Mix the custard powder with a little water to make a smooth thin paste. Gradually stir it into the milk mixture, whisking constantly. Continue stirring until the custard is smooth. Remove from heat and add rose water. Return to the stove and place over a very low heat a few minutes. Pour into custard dishes, and garnish with pistachios. Chill.
  3. ~~~~~~~~wish to make it from scratch?~~~~~~~~~~
  4. Try this variation:
  5. * 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  6. * 1 tablespoon green or white cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  7. * 1/3 cup arrowroot
  8. * 1/2 cup sugar
  9. * 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios or walnuts
  10. Bring milk, cardamom pods, and a pinch of salt just to a boil in a 2-qt heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
  11. Whisk together arrowroot and sugar in a large bowl, then whisk in hot milk mixture. Return to saucepan and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Chill pudding, its surface covered with wax paper, until very cold, at least 4 hours. Serve sprinkled with nuts.

Flavor Your Coffee

Cardamom adds a “je ne sais quoi” to your coffee- it is fabulous in strong Turkish coffee.

My favorite Israeli restaurant uses it in the coffee it serves.

Fabulous Cardamom Cookies – Rich Buttery Cookies

With the secret ingredient of cardamom that will have everyone raving. And such a simple recipe!


  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • For Decoration:
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • sliced almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease 2 baking sheets.
  2. Combine flour, cardamom and salt. In a separate bowl, beat butter until creamy, and add sugar. Continue to beat until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flower mixture until well-blended, stir in ground almonds.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and cardamom. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, coat in sugar-spice mixture. Place 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Dip the bottom of a glass into sugar mixture and flatten cookies to 1/2 inch thick rounds. Decorate with sliced almonds.
  4. Bake cookies until golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Remove sheets to wire racks to cool 2-3 minutes. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Fresh Spices Make A Difference

Like most spices, cardamom loses it flavor strength over time. You can refrigerate for longer preservation, but be sure to use your spice and replace it when it seems less potent.

I recommend this Cardamom – Economically priced

If you have looked in your local grocery store you know this food flavoring comes at a premium cost. An organic source that is far more economical is this one, online.

Ground for convenience, use it up within a year. Buy these smaller amounts more often for freshness.

Tandoori Chicken

alt=”photo by my_amii” width=”240″ height=”160″ /> photo by my_amii

Indian cooking uses cardamom in many of its spice mixtures- and no wonder since this is where the spice originates.

Cook Time

Prep Time: 5 hours (marinate)

Total Time: 1 1/2 hour

Serves: 6


  • 1 chicken (3 lbs.) quartered
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 cups yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 8 garlic cloves- crushed through a press
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper- to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring(optional)
  • Scallions and lime wedges


  1. Remove skin from chicken; make two deep gashes in each piece of meat. Rub chicken all over with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lime juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Place in a 12x8x2-inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine yogurt with ginger, garlic, cardamom, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, remaining lime juice and salt, and food coloring, if desired. Pour over chicken and turn to coat. Cover loosely and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for at least 4 hours or overnight to develop flavors.
  3. When ready to cook, light charcoal grill or preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grill over medium-hot coals or bake 40 to 50 minutes, turning and basting frequently with yogurt marinade. Garnish with scallions and lime wedges

Christmas Cookie – Cardamom Pistachio Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter- chilled, (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed using a mortar and pestle
  • 1/4 cup sparkling decorative sugar
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, chopped

Buttery Rounds

delicious cookies

delicious cookies


  1. Heat the oven to 375°. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat for one minute. Add the vanilla extract and egg yolks and beat an additional minute.
  2. Sift together the flour and salt. Spoon the flour mixture into the butter mixture and add the cardamom. Beat on low speed, then increase to medium and mix until the batter is combined.
  3. Spoon the dough into a cookie press and press out onto ungreased baking sheets. Or roll the dough into a log, wrap in parchment paper and chill for two hours before slicing into rounds and arranging evenly onto the cookie sheets. In a small bowl, combine the sparkling sugar and the pistachio nuts, then sprinkle some on each cookie.
  4. Bake just until the edges of the cookies start to turn a pale golden color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet, then remove carefully to a wire rack. The cookies will firm up as they cool. When they are completely cool, store in an airtight container. They may be kept frozen up to two months.

Cardamom Extract

More Ways To Start Using This Flavor To Set Your Cooking Apart

“Heavy Table” recommends starting your experience of baking with the flavor of cardamom with addition of an extract. Use it with vanilla or even instead of it.

Use as the flavoring in cakes, cookies and ice cream, pancake or waffle batter. It might become your favorite spice, too.

The flavor of cardamom captured in an extract is the easiest way to infuse its flavor into your cooking.

For custards or entree dishes you may want this form. I like the flecks of the ground spice for my baked goods.

The Cardamom Plant – True Cardamom

botanical stamp of cardamom plant

botanical stamp of cardamom plant

Foundational Facts

Botanical name: Elettaria cardamomum

Family: Zingiberaceae, the ginger family

Cardamom is native to the monsoon forests of India and Sri Lanka, but is cultivated throughout tropical Asia. The plant may be grown as an outdoor perennial in Zones 10 and 11which include southern Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, in most parts of the USA it can only be grown indoors. If you chose to grow in a container, keep it moist, but not soggy. Place on a a sunny windowsill (facing west or south) and give high humidity, (by way of a bed of rocks or a mister spray).

Culinary Cardamom can be either the true or green Cardamom, which is this plant, or its close relative the black Cardamom. Green, this species, has the more desirable, delicate flavor.

“It is fruity, floral, citrus-y and pungent, and its essential oil contains cineole, which gives it a dash of warming eucalyptus” – [1]

History notes:

“It’s a well-travelled spice, too, believed to have been brought from India to Greece by one of Alexander the Great’s soldiers in the fourth century BC, where it was used in both medicinal as well as culinary concoctions. In the ninth century, the Vikings took it from Constantinople to Scandinavia, where it’s still a fragrant favourite in baking and even in some versions of pickled herring.” {1)

Cardamom Cookery – More Recipes

Cardamom Rolls

Your Opinion on this Spice

Used to flavor rice pudding, cakes, chutney and creme brulée, it is included in Indian spice mixtures like Garam Masala. Scandinavians flavor glogg, yule cake or  aebleskivers (apple pancake puffs) with generous sprinklings of Cardamom, too.

What do you use Cardamom for?