Black cardamom is a popular staple in Indian, Szechuan, and Vietnamese cooking. Black cardamom has a unique aroma and a smoky taste, redolent of pine and camphor, with an astringent effect. Much larger and stronger than its cousin green cardamom, black cardamom is bold, resinous, and a bit brash.
Black cardamom is considered a warm spice, while green cardamom is more of a cooling spice and pairs well with other "heating spices." Whereas green cardamom is used in savory and sweet dishes. black cardamom is used almost exclusively in savory cooking [and in traditional tea, chai]. Black cardamom, paired with coriander seeds, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, makes up the popular Indo-Pak seasoning blend garam masala.
Black cardamom is widely used in soups, chowders, casseroles, and marinades. Vegetarian and kosher chefs substitute black cardamom for the smoky flavor of bacon. In India and Pakistan, black cardamom is commonly used in savory dal and rice dishes, and in Tandoori recipes. In China, particularly in the Szechuan province, the brownish-black cardamom pods are used for long-cooking meat dishes. In Vietnam, black cardamom is an ingredient in the broth for the noodle soup called phở. Black cardamom is popular in rice pilafs, and all sorts of veg or meat curries. Try black cardamom in your next rub or braised beef sauce.