How to Combine Spices and Create Your Own Homemade Cardamom Substitute
Despite its popularity, cardamom can be a tricky spice due to its high unavailability. Its flavor makes it imperative in a multitude of dishes though. Based on what you mix it with, it can be citrusy, herbal, fruity, woody or nutty – or even all these flavors simultaneously. Its aroma is distinct while finding a cardamom substitute is definitely a challenge. You don’t have to despair though.
Cardamom Substitute Options
Whether you run out of it or you simply can’t find it at the local grocery store, it doesn’t mean you have to quit the recipe and cook something else. Instead, find a decent mixture of spices that will come up with a similar flavor.
Ginger and cinnamon
You probably already have ginger in your pantry, not to mention cinnamon. Mix them in equal parts in a recipient, then shake it for a minute to ensure an even distribution of spices. The ginger in this composition adds the tart and sweet aroma, while the cinnamon has an earthy flavor. Simply put, you got the main taste of cardamom. Keep in mind that these spices are stronger than cardamom. Therefore, for one tablespoon of cardamom, you should have around half a tablespoon of this mix. You can obviously add more later if you don’t find it to be enough.
Nutmeg and cinnamon
Cinnamon is great in replicating the earthy nuance of cardamom, hence its popularity as a cardamom substitute. When mixed with nutmeg, you got both the spiciness and sweetness of cardamom. The nutmeg is responsible for the sweet aroma. Once again, don’t use this mix in the same proportions as cardamom, but less than that.
Since you can’t perfectly replicate the taste of cardamom, it’s essential to know what to use this combo for. All in all, nutmeg and cinnamon are excellent in stews and curries.
Cloves can be your best bet in trying to find a cardamom substitute. When you think about cloves, you inevitably think about the smoky flavor of this spice. It can be stingy, indeed, if used in high quantities. It’s also warm when mixed with the right ingredients. There’s a decent chance the respective recipe may already imply using cloves. If it does, don’t use it as a replacement for cardamom or the flavor will be too intense.
Cumin tends to replicate the savory aspect of cardamom, hence its popularity when cooks run out of it. It’s extremely common in Asian and South American cuisines and apart from the savory aroma, it also has an earthy taste. It can work wonders with mild flavors due to its enhancement capabilities.
Related: Cumin Substitute Solutions
Make sure you double check the recipe though. If it asks for green cardamom, you can’t use cumin. Green cardamom is more common in sweet recipes. On the other hand, it makes a solid black cardamom substitute.
Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice
Given the diversified flavors of cardamom, you will most likely need more ingredients to replicate its taste, regardless of the recipe. From this point of view, you can mix cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice, as long as you use the right proportions. Normally, you should use four parts of nutmeg and one part of everything else. The result will be spicier than cardamom, so for one tablespoon of cardamom use ¾ of a tablespoon of this mix.
The substitute is ideal to replace green cardamom due to its sweet taste.
Coriander, nutmeg, and allspice
What do you do if you want to replicate the taste of black cardamom then? Easy! Remove the clove and cinnamon, then add coriander instead. Use equal parts and taste the mix before using it. Different manufacturers use different concentrations. You don’t want any of these spices to be more prominent than others or they will dominate the whole dish. As for the substitution ratio, use 1:1.
Coriander is slightly sweet when used as seeds – similar to cardamom. Once ground, these seeds release an earthy flavor due to their natural oils. With these properties in mind, coriander is an excellent replacement when in need.
In the end, it’s obviously not impossible to create your own cardamom substitute based on ingredients that you may already have around. Work your recipe out based on test and trial – always taste the mix before seasoning the food.
See also: Turmeric substitute