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Black cardamom is a popular Indian spice, called badi elaichi or kali elaichi, that is used in many of the cuisine's signature dishes. It is in the form of seed pods, which are dark brown to black in colour and take on a smokey flavour due to the way they are dried. Cardamom is used for its bold and assertive taste.
The pods have a tough, dried, wrinkly skin, are roughly one inch in length, and house small, sticky, dark-coloured seeds. Black cardamom has a pungent aroma with a citrus and eucalyptus flavour.
Green cardamom pods come from the Elettaria cardamomum plant and are harvested before they mature, while black pods are picked much later and then dried over a fire. In recipes, black cardamom should not be used if a recipe calls for green cardamom as the two pods have extremely different taste profiles. (Green can be used in place of black, but the signature smokiness will be absent.) Whereas green cardamom contributes a subtle, delicate taste to dishes, black cardamom packs a punch. Unlike green cardamom, which is a popular Scandinavian ingredient, the black variety of this spice is rarely used in sweet dishes due to its strong smokey and menthol flavours.
When using green cardamom, it is recommended that the seeds be removed from the pods and ground before adding to recipes. The black cardamom pods are best when added whole to a recipe and removed before serving.
Black cardamom is largely used in savoury Indian dishes ranging from curries, stews, daals- lentil dishes and pilafs. In China, the pods are used for jin-jin braised meat dishes, particularly in Sichuan cuisine, and in Vietnam, they are used as an ingredient in pho noodle soup.