Cardamom Adds A Savory Depth To Bland White Rice

There's no dish that unites the entire culinary world like white rice. The ingredient is found in practically every culture: Whether as part of a main course or purely as an appetizer, it's used in everything from jambalaya to biryani. Although produced in a variety of forms, such as jasmine or basmati, they all possess a mild, nutty taste.

Yet rice can often be too mild. Rarely is the grain eaten on its own. If there's no protein or vegetables accompanying it, then it's heavily seasoned or boiled in a broth to infuse it with flavor. Typically, salt and butter do the trick, but if you're looking for inventive ways to add more flavor to white rice, try using cardamom.

Adding thyme or bay leaves to rice is common, but cardamom is an underappreciated aromatic. The southern Indian spice has a sharp, peppery taste that's brightened by sweet citrus nuances. Cardamom grows in pods, but you can also purchase the ground version. Either will give your rice an interesting savory, fragrant twist.

How to add cardamom to white rice

The spicy, aromatic flavor of cardamom can be added to rice either before or after it cooks. If you're using the pods, crush about two or three using a mortar and pestle. You can also pulverize the seeds or whole pods in a food processor or spice grinder. Then place them into the pot before the water starts to boil. You can even just pop a few whole pods in the water if you slightly open them first with a rolling pin. If you've opted for ground cardamom, just sprinkle a teaspoon or two into the pot or add it to the rice once it has finished cooking.

If you want more out of the cardamom, try toasting the pods before crushing and grinding them. Simply place them in a dry, hot skillet for about three minutes. Alternatively, you can bake them for 10 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit to gain a deeper taste.

To add even more depth to your white rice, sprinkle in some cinnamon, as well. Cinnamon's warm earthiness complements cardamom's green, tart taste, bringing balance to the spicy flavors. With an added dash of cumin, however, you can lean even further into the rich flavor that cardamom possesses.