If green cardamom is the “Queen of Spices”, then black cardamom must be the “Bishop of Spices”. The battle between these two spices has been fought for hundreds of years, and perhaps we will never have a definite winner. Both spices are useful for different purposes.
Black cardamoms are usually dried using a strong flame, and so they usually end up tasting quite raunchy and smoky. They are popular in Africa and Northern India. Especially in India, this dark spice is used in unique ways. A visit to several Northern Indian restaurants usually reveals the same thing: Most of the chefs use black cardamom for one purpose or another. It is also very popular in Pakistan, and in fact many of the world’s suppliers of the black spice come from there. Black cardamom is usually utilized when the dishes involved are spicy. Black cardamom is one of the components of the popular spice mixture Garam Masala.
Black cardamom is cheaper than green cardamom. The price of black cardamom is directly related to the world spice market and the import/export sector, as well as how easy or how hard it is to cultivate it. You can see why this is so and how you can get the cheapest black cardamom on this page: Cardamom Prices.
Generally, there is this, shall we say, universal opinion that black cardamom is the inferior brother of the green cardamom. While this may be the general opinion of some groups of people, it is not exactly empirically true. Black cardamom has its applications just like the green variety, and it is considered superior in many instances. Some dishes do not go well at all with green cardamom, but the black cardamom’s smoky flavor can enhance the flavor of a dish where the green variety cannot.
Black cardamom can generally be used in large quantities as it will never really overpower most dishes with its smoky deliciousness. You will rarely make the mistake of having a dish tasting too much like black cardamom. Nevertheless, consider that everything has a limit. Need need to go overboard. Using more than ten capsules per dish is not recommended.
Perhaps the most common recipe with black cardamom is the praised basmati rice with black cardamom. The black cardamom pods are added to the rice to infect it with the black cardamom’s wonderful scent. Once the water evaporates and the rice cools off for a few minutes, pods are removed and the scent of the cardamom remains.
You can make tea with black cardamom but it is generally agreed upon that green cardamom is better for teas. If you add some lemon and/or honey you might be able to make it taste to your liking, but it won’t be a world class tea. Perhaps the best tea you can make using black cardamom is a fennel and black cardamom combination. This is fairly common tea combination in India, but rarely seen outside of it. For more information check out this cardamom tea recipe.
Experienced cooks will often use black cardamom in combination with other spices(in fact, the spice blend Garam Masala has black cardamom) because it has the power of mixing differing flavors. Expert chefs will generally use it to make an incoherent agglutination of tastes come together and actually make something worthwhile.
In terms of health benefits, black cardamom can be useful in the treatment of depression, foul breath and digestion problems. It contains niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.
It IS mostly used for stomach problems. If you’re having a bad case of constipation and you really want to get rid of it, consuming moderate dosages of black cardamom throughout the day can help you with your stomach troubles. In a way, it works like melon(though you probably don’t want to combine melon with black cardamom, at least at the same time).
Overall, black cardamom is a very useful spice and you would do well to make sure that you always have it at hand. It is extremely popular with basmati rice so whenever you want to quickly eat something that is easy to cook and tasty to eat, having this spice at hand can save your life.