True (or green) cardamom is a pungent aromatic spice and medicinal herb. It is a perennial plant that can grow to be 6 to12 ft. in height. The green seed pods of the plant are dried and the seeds inside the pod are used in Indian and Asian cuisine either whole or in a ground form. Ground cardamom is an ingredient in many Indian curries, and is a primary contributor to the flavor of masala chai. In the Middle East and Iran, cardamom is used to flavor coffee and tea.
Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. It is often used in baking in Scandinavia. One of the most expensive spices by weight, little is needed to impart the flavor. Cardamom is best stored in pod form, because once the seeds are exposed or ground, they quickly lose their flavor.