When trying to elevate your cooking skills, understanding spices is important. A couple that always causes confusion is cardamom and coriander.
What are the differences between cardamom and coriander? Cardamom and coriander seeds have similar uses in cooking. However, cardamom is a spice from the ginger family while coriander comes from the parsley family. The two are also different in terms of appearance and flavor notes.
Continue reading to learn about cardamom and coriander, their flavor profile, uses in cooking, spice pairings, and more.
What Is Cardamom?
Cardamom is a spice from the ginger family. Native to Asia and a staple in Indian cuisine, cardamom is now produced in different parts of the world. It features pods with seeds and often comes in powder form.
Cardamom has two main varieties – black cardamom and green cardamom. The latter is often referred to as true cardamom and is the most widespread cardamom variety.
What Is Coriander?
Understanding coriander is a tad bit difficult. If you have always considered coriander to be a plant, you may be surprised why anyone would confuse cardamom with coriander.
Here’s the thing. Coriander is an herb that comes from the parsley family and the Coriandrum sativum plant.
In the US, the seeds of this plant are referred to as coriander while the leaves and stalks are called cilantro. Translated from Spanish, the latter means coriander leaves.
In many other countries, the dried seeds of the Coriandrum sativum plant are called coriander seeds and the leaves and stalks are called coriander leaves.
It is the coriander seeds that many people confuse with cardamom.
What Are The Differences Between Cardamom And Coriander?
To understand the differences between cardamom and coriander, let’s compare some of the aspects of these seeds.
Distinguishing cardamom and coriander seeds when they are not ground is quite easy. Coriander seeds are small and shaped like balls. While these seeds can be used whole, coriander seeds are most often dried and ground for convenient use.
Cardamom seeds, on the other hand, come in pods. They have a shape of a spindle and are rather difficult to open. Each pod contains multiple seeds. The seeds are small and black.
You can release them from the pod if you manage to open the pod shell. It is easier to buy cardamom in powder form. The latter is made by grinding the entire pod of cardamom.
As powders tend to lose their intensity sooner, many cooks prefer to use seeds. When using cardamom seeds, you need to crush them with a pestle to release their flavor.
The flavor of cardamom is quite intense. It is sweet and pungent. Many describe cardamom seeds as lemony and minty too.
Black cardamom is also known for its smoky notes and cooling effect.
The flavor profile of coriander seeds is earthy and sweet. Cardamom has a floral aroma. The floral aroma of the seeds becomes more prominent when you toast them.
As with cardamom, many find coriander seeds to have lemony undertones.
In general, both cardamom and coriander are not overpowering when used in moderation.
Cardamom and coriander seeds both pair nicely with cumin, pepper, ginger, allspice, chili, and cinnamon. They pair nicely with each other too.
Cardamom also pairs well with mustard, paprika, anise, and turmeric. Coriander seeds, on the other hand, pair nicely with fennel seeds and garlic.
As far as the uses in cooking are concerned, cardamom and coriander have a few similarities. You can use both cardamom and coriander not only in savory dishes but in sweet dishes too.
If plain salt and pepper are all you use, you may be intimidated to incorporate these seeds in your recipes.
But both coriander and cardamom are very versatile. If you pair them with the right ingredients, they will yield flavorful results.
Use coriander seeds with all kinds of meats, from poultry to lamb. Pair coriander with cruciferous vegetables and fruits to accentuate its lemony floral notes.
Coriander, with a flavor in between cinnamon and lemon zest, makes a perfect addition to dessert sauces, crumbles, and other baked goods.
As for cardamom, you can use it in meat dishes, pair it with legumes and different grains. Bakers use cardamom to flavor cookies, pastries, and other sweet treats.
As cardamom is very fragrant and has unique flavor notes, you can also use it in drinks. Pair cardamom with tea or coffee to discover the magic of these seeds.
You can also use cardamom in alcoholic drinks and cocktails.
Just like coriander, cardamom pairs exceptionally well with fruits. Cardamom makes the best combinations with lemon, oranges, apricots, apples, and pears.