Cooking with Cardamom


Cardamom, also called ela in Sanskrit, has been a staple spice in the Ayurvedic paradigm for thousands of years. Ayurveda is the ancient healing science of India with more than 5,000 years of case studies proving its efficacy. According to this system, wellness expands when we orient toward balanced living and align ourselves with the rhythms of nature. The Ayurvedic approach focuses on diet, daily routine, and herbs to prevent and alleviate common wellness challenges.

Today we’ll explore ways to incorporate cardamom into your diet by cooking with it! If you’re curious to learn more about the ancient Ayurvedic perspective on this herb, or the potential benefits, check out The Joy of Cardamom, and then come back here to learn how to cook with it!

Cooking Lentils With Cardamom

When cooking lentils, beans and even soups, you can always toss in a whole cardamom pod directly into the pot. This method is similar to how you would add a bay leaf for extra flavor. As the cardamom pod simmers in the mixture, it will infuse the liquid like a tea, adding a wonderful aromatic quality and some potential digestive benefits as well. When it comes time to serve and eat your lentils etc., just remove the cardamom pod. If you want to put it to practice, try the Simple Dal recipe below.

Simple Dal (Serves 6)


1 cup red lentils *soak overnight or for at least 4 hours*

4-6 cups water or broth

1-2 carrots, chopped finely

1 tbsp ghee

3 slices fresh ginger

whole cardamom pods

bay leaf

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground fennel seed

1 tsp pink himalayan rock salt


  • After soaking your lentils, strain and rinse.
  • In a medium/large soup pot, melt ghee over medium heat.
  • Add carrots, fresh ginger, cardamom pods, bay leaf and ground spices. Gently saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add rinsed lentils and water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and crack the lid to prevent boiling over.
  • Cook for 40-60 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Stir periodically and add more water/broth, if needed.
  • Once cooked, add rock salt and fresh cilantro.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge.


Cooking Greens with Cardamom

When cooking green or vegetables with cardamom, I opt for using the powder rather than the pod. I like using ground cardamom for this because when paired with ghee and other ground spices, it makes for a nice flavorful coating on whatever produce you’re preparing. When it comes to nourishing the body on a busy schedule, I am all about sauteing fresh greens — it’s quick, easy and adds vibrancy to any meal. Try my recipe for a Quick Swiss Chard Saute below!

Quick Swiss Chard Saute (Serves 4)


1 bunch swiss chard

1-2 tsp ghee or olive oil

¼ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cumin

juice of ¼ lemon

salt to taste


  • Thinly slice chard stems (set aside) and chop the leaves into ribbons.
  • Heat oil in a pan over medium/high heat.
  • Add ground cardamom and ground cumin. Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in chard stems and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add chard leaves and saute for another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in a few pinches of salt and the juice of ¼ lemon.
  • Turn off heat and serve with a fried egg for breakfast or as a side for dinner.

Cooking Porridge with Cardamom

I am here to tell you that oatmeal does not have to be boring …or soggy. Once you know how to spice it up (literally), you will be amazed at how a typical breakfast porridge can transform into a morning favorite — something that you actually crave and enjoy! Using steel cut oats instead of standard rolled oats is a total game changer, it’s got a much chewier texture and is deeply satiating. If you haven’t tried this yet, the recipe below is for you! Changing up the grain that you use in a porridge can really bring your breakfast to life.

Ayurvedic Spiced Steel Cut Oats (Serves 3-4)


1 cup steel cut oats *soaked overnight in water*

2 cups water (plus more, if needed)

A pinch of salt

¼ tsp ground cardamom OR 1 whole pod

¼ tsp cinnamon or ½ cinnamon stick

½ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

coconut sugar or maple syrup to taste

ghee to taste


  • Soak oats overnight in water (or for at least 4 hours). Strain and rinse before using.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine steel cut oats, water, salt, cardamom and cinnamon.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes until oats are tender. Add more water if needed.
  • Once the oats are cooked, stir in the blueberries and remove from heat.
  • Serve and top with ghee and your sweetener of choice.

Note: You can make a blueberry compote by sauteing your berries in ghee with the cardamom and coconut sugar until they burst and become jammy. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some shredded coconut and you can thank me later …because you won’t believe how much you’ve just upleveled your morning oatmeal. For an extra delight, try making your own ghee.



Molly McConnell is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner who is committed to cultivating collective wellness. Guided by curiosity, embodied listening, and the rhythms of nature, Molly’s approach to Ayurveda is intentional and intersectional. As the cofounder ofCultivate Balance, she supports purpose-oriented people to come home to their bodies and restore resilience through nourishment, ritual, and routine. For a more immersive experience,Connect with Molly 1:1 or check outThe Reset for Resilience.