« Soy sauce (Recipe: oven-braised beef short ribs) | Main | Market to Pantry #7: Dean & DeLuca, Washington DC »

Cardamom pods (Recipe: mulling spices for wine or cider)

Mulling spices

One lovely thing to know about cardamom pods:

In Arab cultures, cardamom pods placed in the spout of a coffee pot flavor the coffee, and guests are often shown the pods first as a sign of respect. The larger and greener and more plump the pods, the more highly revered the guest. The cuisines of many countries incorporate cardamom, which has been used in Indian cooking for more than 2,000 years. Thanks to the Vikings, cardamom found its way to Scandinavia, where it's very popular in baked goods like pulla bread.

Cooking or baking?
Both, though it's the seeds that are used in breads and pastries.

In an airtight container for one year. Over time the pods will fade in color and potency (the pods in my photos are nine months old).

More about cardamom pods.

Mulling spices

Mulling spices for wine or cider

Mulled wine is nothing more than red wine heated with spices. The same process works with apple cider to make a nonalcoholic version that's a favorite on our Thanksgiving menu. There are an infinite number of variations and combinations -- some including sugar and/or brandy -- but this one, from Nibbledish, is my favorite. Don't worry about exact proportions, and please don't use your most expensive red wine. However, if you're going the cider route, buy good apple cider or apple juice. These amounts will flavor one bottle of wine or half-gallon of cider; adjust to your own taste.


1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cardamom pods
1 star anise
3 strips of dried orange peel
2 whole cloves
1 bottle of red wine, apple cider or apple juice


Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel saucepan. Set heat to simmer (or lowest possible heat), and warm through. Strain out the spices before serving.

*Note: you can make this in a slow cooker exactly the same way. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker, set to LOW, heat for 1 hour. Then set the cooker to WARM. Strain out the spices, and serve directly from the slow cooker.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Prawn fried rice
Masalawali chai
Finnish pulla bread
Grilled fruit with cardamom yogurt
Currant cardamom scones

Other recipes that use cardamom pods:
Roasted cranberry sauce, from The Bitten Word
Colorful cardamom roasted cauliflower, from Sunday Nite Dinner
Sugar-free cardamom custard cups, from Christine Cooks
Pistachio and cardamom brownies, from Quick Indian Cooking
Cardamom panna cotta, from Cooking Debauchery

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 love cardamom in my coffee, though I first had it at an Afghan restaurant, not Arabic! One of my favorite spices, great recipe for mulled wine, or glug as they call it in Scandinavia!

I add cardamom to many things -- fruit pies, veggie lasagna, other baked goods -- to add a slightly smoky, edgy, spicy undertone. Credit goes to Martha Stewart whose recipe for peach pie with cardamom got me started!

I was given a small pouch of cardamon seeds as a souvenir at an Arab-themed wedding in Paris. Not knowing exactly what to do with them, I steeped a few in warm milk which I then used to make rice pudding. Zut Alors!

This is a great post for a lot of reasons, the wonderful photograph being one, but primarily for me in that I'm not sure I've ever used cardamom; I think I might just try the mulled wine!

I have always been a little chicken about using cardamon - never quite sure how to "process" the pods.I am going to have to get over that!!

Kirsten, it's one of those spices we don't use often enough, or at least I don't use it often enough.

Mary, love the idea of cardamom in veggie lasagna. I'll have to try it.

Cousin, now you know that the gift of cardamom is a generous gift. Rice pudding does sound delicious.

Rich, thank you. Another great way to get started with cardamom is to grind the seeds and mix into whipped cream, then serve over fruit.

Carol, open the pods, remove the seeds (which should be a bit sticky if they're fresh -- like the seeds inside a vanilla bean), toast and then grind them. Or buy good quality ground cardamom or cardamom seeds from Penzeys.

Lydia, you so often tip the memory bin -- Foodstuffs natural food deli, 1981 to 1989, steaming hot mulled cider steeping in the crockpot all day. We went to our bulk spice shelves, took whatever the cook fancied, put it in the pot with our local apple cider. When it got low we would just add more cider and let it go on steeping for days. Never needs sugar -- the cider and the spices themselves bring out their own sweetness.

Love the information given on cardamom pods! We eat at this Indian restaurant often and when they bring out our check they bring out a plate of cardamom pods and other spices (which I'm not sure what they are) to lay the check on. It was always strange to me, but reading this, it all makes sense now!

I remember the first time I'd discovered cardamom. So glad I did! ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Paz xoox

Susan, the aroma in the shop must have been intoxicating!

Peggy, one of the main spices in that mix is fennel seed (sometimes with a candy coating). Isn't it delicious?

Paz, thank you so much!

This exemplifies comfort to me Lydia. have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for.

Love the picture !
And, oh, I want to make Mulled wine, right now. Yumm.

What an informative post on cardamom, one of my favorite spices. During the winter I will often have a saucepan of cinnamon stick, anise pod, cardamom seeds, cloves and allspice simmering on the back of the stove. The aroma fills the house with the scent of winter baking.
Thanks so much for the link, Lydia.

JP, Not Just Spices, on Hope St in Providence.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.