"It appears in Ethiopian berbere, Parsi dhansak masala, Moroccan ras el hanout, and Yemeni zhug (all spice mixtures), as well as the various curry pastes that are popular from India, across Asia, to Japan. Cardamom also blends into garam masala and mulling spices." ~ Alice Arndt in "Seasoning Savvy".
The Latin cardamōmum and French cardamome is simply a capsule shaped rootstalk of Indian origin, the seeds of which are known for their unique flavor and are often ground to make cardamom spice. Cardamom has risen from its home in India and has now successfully captivated palates all over the world, becoming an imperative for German and Scandinavian sweetmeats and Arabic, Swedish delicacies, Iranian tea and of course American liqueurs.
From acting as a mouth freshener and tooth cleanser since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, to curing throat soreness and even being beneficial for tuberculosis, cardamom spice uses are multiple. They not only make it to the remedial list of ancient Indian ayurveda but are exceptionally good antidotes in cases of scorpion and snake bites. As per ancient Chinese curatives, cardamom is a miracle drug for both dysentery and constipation. Along with treating halitosis, cardamom was an important ingredient for perfumes used by the Romans and Grecians. But in spite of these cardamom spice benefits, excessive ingestion of this food additive is known to potentially cause gastric issues leading to further coeliac problems.
Besides cardamom spice is pretty exorbitant, humbled only by the cost of saffron, and lactating mothers are often asked to keep away from it. And so arises the need to find at least one viable cardamom substitute. Indeed a few cardamom spice substitutes exist that can, if not totally then to a great extent, cover up for this Indian queen of spices. So, here are some cardamom spice alternatives for you.
Substitutes for Cardamom Spice
The aroma of cardamom spice can in sooth be a little overwhelming sometimes, suppressing the natural flavors of other ingredients in a dish. Also, cardamom is known to aggravate situations for those already in gallbladder trouble. So, for all you in love with this spice but have to do without it, try these options out.
- Use 50% of cinnamon and 50% nutmeg instead of the amount of cardamom you need to use. This is specially effective as an alternative when concocting sweetmeats.
- If you can afford a slightly accentuated flavor, use ½ tsp. cinnamon and ½ blended cloves to substitute for 1 tsp. of cardamom spice.
- You can also opt for equal helpings of nutmeg and ground clove if you wish to produce a cardamom spice like effect.
- You can also use cinnamon, nutmeg or even allspice individually for that matter. A pinch of each shall substitute the same amount of cardamom spice of course.
- It is best to use ginger in the same proportions as cardamom spice recommended in the recipe, given that you are ladling up something savory. In fact, cardamom is a cousin of ginger.
- Experiment if you want by using some grains of paradise, a.k.a. guinea pepper instead of cardamom. This ingredient is a tad bitter and has a hot and spicy tinge to it. It works best in meat preparations wherein you need to grind this grain, commingle it with vinegar and minced garlic and then baste lamb, pork or chicken with it, just before roasting.
- Try using coriander seeds as it keeps to the taste emanated by cardamom spice. But use only 50% of the cardamom spice stipulation in the food recipe.
- If you are making a curry of some sort, you can use a 50:50 mixture of cumin and coriander spices. They will give you a nice, earthy taste that is, in all honesty, quite different from the flavor of cardamom. But these two together work wonders nevertheless. Refrain from using this mixture while making desserts though. Cumin is never a friend of sweet dishes.
- Mace is also a fine cardamom spice replacement. Again exercise the 50% rule here as you can always add more if need be.
You can also use alternatives of cardamom spice, if the aroma is a problem, by grinding the seeds of cardamom cousins which are not as strongly flavored as cardamom itself. Nepal cardamom, bastard cardamom, Siam cardamom and winged Java cardamom are some inferior cardamom variables that you can use as cardamom substitutes. Also, the Ethiopian false cardamom, called kewrerima and grown in Keffa and Gamu Gofa, is a cheap option, but refrain from using it in dessert recipes as they have a pretty acuate taste.
So, now try out these cardamom spice substitutes. Remember if someone simply mentions cardamom, it means green cardamom. Dark cardamom has a markedly different taste. You can try these substitutes in variant permutation and combinations as cooking is undoubtedly an evolving art which progresses in kitchens of inventive cooks. You never know what might just give you that desired flavor of cardamom spice with increased vigor, until you keep experimenting. So, until you find more options for cardamom spice substitution, try these. And in case you know some more, feel free to let me know the alternatives. Bon appétit!