- The dried fruit of a perennial bush, Elettaria cardamomum, belonging to the ginger family, consisting of green or bleached pods (5 to 10 mm long) containing loose black seeds with an aromatic flavour and smell. Larger pods are in general brown to black and their seeds are of a lower quality and used in pickles and chutneys. Cardamom is used to flavour coffee in the Middle East as well as being common in Indian, Eastern and Scandinavian cuisines. Young cardamom leaves are used as a food wrapping and to flavour food in Southeast Asian cuisines. Cheap cardamom substitutes are Nepal cardamom, Chinese cardamom, Javanese winged cardamom and Ethiopian cardamom.