I just spent some time searching for a reasonable replacement or substitute for cardamom. I'm trying to find the spices needed to make masala chai, and in a quick survey of several recipes, all of them call for cardamom. By chance, I happened upon the fact that black cardamom is commonly used in Chinese cuisine. I found the name of black cardamom in Chinese (草果, cǎo guǒ) and discovered that I can buy it pretty much anywhere (including back home in Zhongdian) for local, non-import prices. Unfortunately, black cardamom and (green) cardamom are different things, but I notice that some masala recipes include a combination of both, so I'm hoping that it will at least get me, as a non-gourmet, close enough.