A member of the ginger family, this aromatic spice is native to India and grows in many other tropical areas including Asia, South America and the Pacific Islands. Cardamom seeds are encapsulated in small pods about the size of a cranberry. Each pod containers 17 to 20 tiny seeds. Cardamom has a pungent aroma and a warm, spicy-sweet flavor. You can purchase cardamom by either pod (pictured) or ground, the latter more convenience is not as full flavored because cardamom seeds begin to lose their essential oils as soon as they are ground. You can attempt to ground yourself using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. If using this method in a soup or stew, the shell will disintegrate in the broth while the dish cooks. If using in a baked good, purchase the already ground cardamom. Be frugal when using cardamom – a little goes a long way.