What is Cardamom?
Have you ever heard of “queen of spices”? That’s the title cardamom has acquired over time. It emanates from plant seeds in the genera Elettaria, usually light green in color, and Amomum is dark brown. It has a spicy flavor and also gives your dishes an aroma similar to citrus. Cardamom is a costly spice globally, third-placed after saffron and vanilla flavors in price per weight. By the way, you can also choose a saffron substitute, depending on what taste you expect and for what purpose you would like to use.
Since it is native in India, cardamoms are commonly used in Indian cuisines. It is also a popular spice in the Scandinavian countries. Whichever way you want to use this spice, you have to keep in mind that just a little of it goes a long way.
What is Cardamom Used for?
Generally, cardamom is safe for most people, if not all. The most common use is in baking or cooking. You can as well use cardamom as a flavor in tea, coffee, and alcohol. Cardamom helps with digestive problems and stomach ulcers, prevents cavities and treats bad breath, lowers blood sugar levels, is an antioxidant, and lowers blood pressure. Cardamom contains compounds that help fighting cancer cells. It is also rich in compounds that reduce inflammation.
You can use cardamom to spice both savory and sweet dishes. Green cardamom is the best choice for sweet foods, while black cardamom is more appropriate for the savory ones. You can use ground cardamom as a direct ingredient to your recipe; however, you get a strong flavor using the pods than powdered.
What Can I Substitute for Cardamom?
There are a number of spices that you can use as a substitute for cardamom. However, you cannot depend on only one spice to replace cardamom unique flavor. Due to its complexity in flavor, you would have to make a combination of two or more spices to achieve that. In most common cases, cardamom substitutes will be a combination of two other spices such as cinnamon and cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, and cinnamon and ginger. Already, we can say for sure that finding a substitute for cardamom is a very real task, like, for example, finding fenugreek alternatives.
It is a spice extracted from the inner bark of trees of the Cinnamomum family. The word “cinnamon” is derived from its brownish color. It is native in the Caribbean, Asia, and South America, where it has for long been used as traditional medicine and a spice. Cinnamon can be found in the form of powder or chopped bark of a tree. Its most common use is flavoring a wide range of cuisines such as tea, breakfast cereals, and traditional dishes. Cinnamon is very popular since it can be used as a standalone sub for cardamom.
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Cinnamon and Cloves
This probably the best cardamom substitute combination. The caustic concentration of cloves combined with the wood-like sweetness of cinnamon can perfectly match the cardamom flavor. If your recipe requires one teaspoon of cardamom, you will combine half a teaspoon of both spices in place of cardamom. It’s highly recommended for meat and seafood.
Cinnamon and Nutmeg
This is another cardamom replacement formed with two complex and robust flavors; cinnamon and nutmeg. Just like the above alternative, both cinnamon and nutmeg are widely endorsed as a sub for cardamom. This combination is recommended for use in salty or spicy foods.
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Cinnamon and Ginger
A mixture of cinnamon and ginger in the right proportion is also a good cardamom alternative. You have to use an equal ratio of cinnamon and ginger as cardamom replacement. The wood-like sweetness of cinnamon perfectly matches the warm and spicy flavor of ginger to give a delightful scent.
Contrary to its name, Allspice is not a mixture of various spices. It’s a single spice made from unripe berries of the pimento tree. These berries form a unique mixture of flavor of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Allspice can be in the form of whole berry or ground powder used for cooking vegetables, eggnog, soup, mincemeat, chicken, etc. You can also use Allspice when preparing desserts such as cakes, pumpkin pies, muffins, and bread.
Even though there is no exact substitute for Allspice, you can easily approximate its flavor by mixing together nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. These three spices taste pretty much the same as Allspice, and since most recipes require only a small amount of Allspice combined with other spices, it makes it harder to notice the substitution.
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Commonly referred to as the “queen of spices“, Cardamom is an expensive spice with a unique flavor that makes its standout. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t worry if you do not have it in your spice stand. As you have read above, you have several choices as far as cardamom substitution is concerned. A blend of cinnamon and cloves can correctly work as a substitute for cardamom and save you money. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon as a cardamom alternative in savory foods. If you have a recipe that needs one gram of cardamom, use one gram of Allspice instead since it’s a standalone cardamom replacement. Where can we use such combinations of cardamom substitute? Any ideas? Be sure to share it with us in the comments!