Nadiya Hussain's Absolute Favorite Uses For Cardamom - Exclusive

When you think of cardamom, you probably think of the fine powder that comes in a bottle at the grocery store, but this is just one version of the aromatic spice. Chef, writer, and winner of Season 3 of "The Great British Baking Show," Nadiya Hussain shares that cardamom is far more versatile than people typically expect. 

Cardamom is a close relative to ginger and turmeric and comes from the seed pods of the cardamom plant, either ground up or whole. One of its qualities is that it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Hussain learned how to use cardamom in both contexts from her mother. "When she does savory cooking, she uses it whole," Hussain told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview. "When we do sweet cooking, we take the little black seeds out, crush them, and put them in, so you get more of an intense cardamom flavor. I love it."

Cardamom is an excellent spice to use in recipes because of the range of intensity of flavor it can add to dishes based on how you use it. Hussain shared that when she wants a less intense cardamom flavor, she leaves the seed in its pod and uses it whole. When cardamom is crushed up or used in larger amounts, Hussain thinks it takes on a more "medicinal" flavor from its earthiness.

Other ways Nadiya Hussain uses cardamom

Cardamom isn't just reserved for food — the seed has many health benefits associated with it as well, such as improved digestion, antioxidant properties, and anti-inflammatory effects (per Healthline). Add cardamom to your daily diet by enjoying it as a beverage like Hussain does. "We love it with a cup of tea," she comments. "When we make a black tea, drop a couple of cardamom pods in there; you get that beautiful aroma without that overpowering flavor."

Perhaps one of the most unique ways cardamom can be used is as an all-natural mouth freshener. Hussain shared that in parts of Southeast Asia, people chew cardamom whole, and much like mint leaves, it acts as a mouth-freshening agent. For this reason, it is often chewed after meals to help with digestion and kill breath-causing bacteria in the mouth. There is truly no limit to the versatility cardamom can supply, making it a must-have ingredient in your spice cabinet.