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Ground cardamom (Recipe: spice rub for chicken)


How do you say cardamom?

Nobody's entirely sure of the etymology of the word, though it originated in ancient Greek (kardamomom), but the names for this popular spice from the ginger family are varied: shooshmir (Armenian); sugmel (Tibetan); trúc sa (Vietnamese); phalazee (Burmese); elaichi (Hindi); habbahan (Arabic); karudamon (Japanese); cardamomo (Italian); kardamonas (Lithuanian); kardemon (Estonian); kardemomme (Danish).

My favorite is kardemumma (Swedish) perhaps because I can imagine my Swedish brother-in-law Nils pronouncing each lilting syllable -- kar de MUM a -- his blue eyes twinkling, a glass of cardamom-laced akvavit raised for a toast.

The fruit of a large bush that grows wild in the Cardamom Hills in southern India, kardamonas is cultivated in Tanzania, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Guatemala. It's the world’s third most expensive spice, after saffron and vanilla, because it too must be harvested by hand, when the pods are only three-quarters ripe, or the pods will split open and spill their seeds.

Dried green pods should be hard, and the seeds inside them sticky. The seeds lose their flavor quickly when ground; even the whole pods will lose 40 percent of their essential oil within a year. When you can, buy whole green kardemomme pods, and grind as you go.

For convenience, I buy ground kardemon in small quantities, from Penzeys or from a local Indian spice market that has a lot of turnover. I always keep a bit in a jar on my spice rack, and store the rest in the freezer.

Kardemumma's warm, smoky, lemony flavor enhances dishes sweet (cardamom cookies, orange and cardamom upside-down cake, pistachio-cardamom cupcakes, cardamom and pine nut pears) and savory (Moroccan lamb tagine, beef curry, Indian spice broiled chicken).

An essential ingredient in baharat, berbere, and some masalas, cardamomo also makes a great addition to homemade spice rubs for the grilled foods of summer -- no matter how you say it.

The spice rub laboratory!

Spice rub for chicken

Providence chef Diane Vatcher shared some of her spice rub formulas for a grilling class in the Ninecooks kitchen, and a few weeks later our cooking group had a great time mixing up dry rubs for different types of meats and fish. You can use this Moroccan-inspired rub on a whole chicken or turkey breast roasted in the oven, too. Makes enough for 6 large chicken breasts.


3 Tbsp ground cardamom
3 Tbsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp ground turmeric
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground allspice
3 Tbsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cayenne
1 tsp ground cloves


Mix all ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Store in an airtight container for up to two months.

To cook, take chicken out of the refrigerator and let warm to room temperature. Rub lightly with olive oil, then massage some spice rub into the meat. Set aside while you heat the grill.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Grilled fruit with cardamom yogurt
Cardamom shortbread
Doro wat (Ethiopian chicken in red pepper sauce)
Sweet couscous

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I absolutely adore kar de MUM a ;-) My brown eyes are also twinkling at the sound of that spice rub!

Oh yummy, I love cardamom! I use it in many of my Indian dishes, and especially love the scent and flavor the whole pods offer to my chicken saag.

Hmm.. I have everything except the ground ginger. I can always add it in a later batch :) Interesting spice rub.

It's a shame you don't have Smellovision on your posts. I can imagine how wonderful that smells. (And tastes.)

I don´t use cardamom much, because it´s so perfumey, but yesterday some went into a tomato chutney, and it was SO good!

Cardamom's exquisite aroma...mmm...I use it almost everyday in Indian desserts and North Indian savory dishes. Your cardamom shortbread is on my to-try list too, Lydia.
I always thought of cardamom as very "Indian" and was so surprised when a friend made cardamom buns and told me they were a European tradition.

I wonder how they say cardamon in Chinese/Mandarin cos' I don't know!! And a lot of the herbs and spices have no English labels here! :(

I love cardamom and use it all the time. Just a little bit in unusual places adds just that little bit of mystery and intrigue to so many dishes. That rub sounds like a great application of it. I could just inhale that lovely scent all day...

It's that intensification of sweetness that always surprises and pleases me with sweet things. Love it in savory.
Can't decide if your spices looks like a lab or a child's water paint set. I guess it's spices!
So sorry Lydia the pattern is just sitting folded on a chair.

Friends just gave me "half" a bag of green cardamom pods, very fragrant. It's more than I've ever used in my life, so thanks for all the recipes. I'll have to try some. The other day I put some of the seeds in a carrot raisin salad just to try it, and it tasted quite good.

i absolutely need to stock some in my kitchen :-)

I'm afraid I often pronounce it as "cardamon," even though I know better. :-) Love the sound of that spice rub!

I love cardamon and am going to make cardamon scented cubed sugar in the coming weeks to use for baking. Thanks for the info. Spice rubs are wonderful aren't they.

I have developed a passion for cardamom, Lydia, can't get enough of it!
Great recipes - I'm willing to try them all!

This is a spice that I like a lot and don't use nearly often enough!

I don't really like cardamom but I have to admit that this rub of yours is truly tempting.!

I like cardamom. I usually use it in baking. What a nice flavor. Thanks for the rub recipe.

Lydia, is most ground cardamom made from green pods? Is there such a thing as ground black cardamom?
Your rub recipe is great to have on hand this summer, especially when we can save it for up to 2 month!

Meeta, I adore it, too. And I had fun learning all the different names for it.

Jason, there are always whole green pods in my pantry, too.

Jude, you can grind up some fresh ginger and make this more of a paste or yes, add the ground ginger later. Hope you like it!

Sher, some day there will be smellovision, and food blogging will change forever...

Lobstersquad, that chutney sounds interesting. I like the flavor of cardamom with stone fruits (nectarines, peaches and plums, especially).

Nupur, isn't it interesting that cardamom features so prominently in the two completely different cuisines (Indian and Scandinavian)?

Tigerfish, you can find the Chinese names for cardamom (in Cantonese, Mandarin, etc.) here: http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Elet_car.html

Mike, I agree, a little goes a long way, but cardamom combines so beautifully with other "warm" spices.

MyKitchen, there was a bit of the mad scientist feeling in the kitchen on the day we made these spice rubs!

Mae, what a luxurious gift to receive so many cardamom pods! Did you know that in Arab cultures, cardamom coffee is served to guests as a sign of respect?

Dhanggit, yes indeed!

Ann, you can see that in some languages it is pronounced cardamon, which is why it's so confusing.

Kim, your cubed sugar sounds intriguing. How do you use it?

Patricia, have you made cardamom madeleines yet?

Kalyn, it's very good with sweet potatoes, lentils, and other pulses, and with dark leafy greens, too.

Stella, how about trying cardamom in some cookies? You might like it if you just use a little bit; it can be overwhelming if the taste is too strong.

Helene, I use it mostly in baking, too.

WORC, yes, most of the ground cardamom is green or white (which is green cardamom pods that have been bleached). Black cardamom has a different, more smoky and bitter taste; it's used in Indian and African cooking, but I don't keep any in my pantry. I don't think it's often sold in the ground form, though.

I love cardamom! I mainly use them in baking and to sprinke over my rice pudding in recent months. Thanks for the chicken rub recipe. I will be trying it!

Looks like a good rub. I rarely use cardamon because of the price...but it is good.

Great recipe for a rub, thanks!!! I actually have everything on hand so can't wait to try it out.

Good rub, so simple one forgets to make up a batch. Seems like it would be great in a shortbread cookie too!

I don´t use cardamom too much...and mostly in baked goods. I need to incorporate it in more recipes. Love this rub! :)

Anh, cardamom rice pudding sounds divine!

Peabody, it is expensive, no getting around it. Sometimes I'll try to get a few friends to go in together on an order from Penzeys; that cuts the cost and lets us buy smaller quantities.

Aimee, oh the joys of a well stocked pantry! Hope you like the rub.

Callipygia, I'd never even thought of baking with the rub mixture -- brilliant idea!

Chris, cardamom gives a wonderful warmth to savory dishes. I tend to use the ground cardamom more in savory than in sweet.

I received this note from Nancy, a reader, who gave me permission to share it with you:

"I had the opportunity and privilege of summer tutoring a young student of mine going to her house twice a week to make sure that she didn't lose her mastery of reading in English that we had worked so hard on during the school year. The family had helped our forces in Iraq and had been given political asylum. I found out just how hospitable the Kurds can be and I was introduced to cardamon tea. I have never tasted such wonderful tea in all my life. It is black tea with cardamon and can be obtained in any fairly good sized mid-Eastern grocery."

I love the sound of this rub, it sounds so mouthwatering :)

What a lovely blend of warm and sweet spices. And thank you for the reminder that cardamom adds that little bit of mystery to a dish!

George, it is quite flavorful, and easy to make if you have everything on your spice rack.

Karina, I still get that "wow, cardamom!" feeling whenever I taste something that has cardamom in it.

Thanks for the info Lydia. I have a whole big bag of black cardamom. I'll grind some up and try it then, maybe there's some new recipes that can come out of ground black cardamom!

I so wanna try out this spice after reading your post, the spice rub sounds so aromatic!

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