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The flavor profile of cardamom, with its combination of citrusy, woody, herbal, nutty, and fruity hints, is pretty complex. This also makes it a distinct spice that isn’t too easy to substitute! But what happens when you remember halfway through cooking that you have run out of cardamom in your kitchen? Or, maybe you are simply planning to experiment with its alternatives. Regardless of why you’re looking for cardamom substitutes, you have come to the right place.
Table of Contents
- What Does Cardamom Taste Like?
- The Best Cardamom Substitutes Possibly In Your Kitchen
- Wrapping Up
What Does Cardamom Taste Like?
Cardamom comes from the seed pods of different plants belonging to the ginger family. The pods contain a triangular cross-section and spindle-like shape. It has a number of small seeds, though you can use the entire pod as a whole or powdered.
Understanding the multilayered taste profile of cardamom is crucial to find its substitute in the kitchen. Also, the fact that it is a combination of flavors makes it suitable for a wide range of sweet and savory dishes. It works as well in meats as it does in pastries, cakes, and alcoholic cocktails.
The spiciness and warmth of cardamom come across in meat dishes. On the other hand, sweetness and nuttiness are appreciated in cakes. Finally, the lemon and mint undertones of certain cocktails are accentuated by the zing of cardamom.
All in all, the cardamom substitute that you use depends on the recipe that you are planning to make.
The Best Cardamom Substitutes Possibly In Your Kitchen
When you don’t have cardamom in your kitchen, these are the substitutes that you can opt for:
Cloves & Cinnamon
A mixture of cloves and cinnamon in equal parts is a great cardamom substitute. Typically, cardamom is purchased as pods and added to different dishes for its flavor. You can remove the pods afterward if you want. Similarly, use whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and remove them after the dish is ready.
Though it is a good idea for a lot of dishes, it works the best for all kinds of broths and soups. For instance, rather than putting cardamom pods in the lamb stew, put in a few whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and remove them after it’s cooked.
Of course, you cannot do the same thing when making cakes. In that case, you will have to use powdered clove and cinnamon. Half a teaspoon of clove and cinnamon is enough to replace one teaspoon of cardamom.
Nutmeg & Cinnamon
Just as clove and cinnamon, nutmeg and cinnamon are also a great combination that can act as a cardamom substitute in many recipes. This is especially true in the case of sweet dishes because the sweetness of cinnamon and nutmeg complement each other really well. It even goes with different kinds of Indian curries that you make.
Similar to the previous mix, half a teaspoon of nutmeg and cinnamon is good to go when replacing one teaspoon of cardamom. You can also use whole nutmeg or cinnamon sticks, but only for the curries, soups, and stews. In pies, pastries, and cakes, you will have to resort to the powdered version of the spices.
Allspice powder is present in almost all cupboards and pantries across the world. So, even if you have nothing else in the kitchen, you will probably still have a bit of this one left. You can easily use it to substitute cardamom in different dishes.
However, the best use of the allspice powder is in savory dishes instead of pastries and pies. It is a great fit for all curries, fish dishes, and meat preparations. Also, remember to put only a small amount of it compared to the other alternatives on this list. In most recipes, only half a teaspoon of allspice is sufficient because anything more can make the dish too spicy.
Moreover, people frequently consider allspice and mixed spices as one and the same thing, which is never the case. Allspice is a completely different spice that comes from the myrtle family. It isn’t a blend of five to six different spices, so using mixed spices to replace cardamom will not be fruitful.
Ginger, a highly common spice in every household, works pretty well as a cardamom substitute. It is commonly used in sweet dishes like pastries and cakes, owing to gingerbread’s popularity in the world. But it tastes equally delicious when you add it to stews and curries. So, try putting powdered or fresh ginger in your dishes in place of cardamom.
Not only does it offer the same citrusy hint and spiciness as cardamom, but it also is cheaper and easily available in the market. Add half a teaspoon of ginger and cinnamon or one teaspoon of ginger instead of one teaspoon of cardamom to get the same flavors.
Using fresh ginger is also a good idea when you are trying to add an extra bit of zing to the recipe. You can either chop or grate it completely and then measure one teaspoon out of that. But keep in mind that fresh ginger has a more intense flavor than the powdered variant, so use a smaller amount.
Coriander & Cumin
Mix equal parts of coriander and cumin as the replacement for cardamom in all the spicy dishes like meat recipes and curries. Cardamom, cumin, and coriander are the three common ingredients in Indian recipes. So, when the pantry runs out of cardamom, just add a bit of coriander and cumin in its place.
All you need is half a teaspoon of both coriander and cumin to bring that earthiness and warmth to your food. But keep in mind that this mixture is not for the sweet dishes because it completely messes up the flavors. You can only use it for savory recipes.
Use any of the substitutes mentioned above, and your guests will never notice the difference. In fact, cardamom is quite an expensive spice, so you can save it for festive dishes while going with the substitutes for everyday cooking.