Black Cardamoms Green Cardamoms Madagascar Cardamoms
The origin of cardamom can be traced back to as early as 4th century BC in the monsoon forests of the Western Ghats in southern India. Today, this area is known as the Cardamom Hills, and until 200 years back, this area produced most of the world’s cardamom. The cardamom fruits have been in trade in India for more than 1000 years. They had been in print in the medical compendium Charaka Samhita between 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD. What’s more, it is also mentioned in the Sanskrit texts, Taitirriya Samhita of the 4th century BC. During the same time, the Greeks began importing cardamom from the East. While the inferior grades were called amomon, the superior grades were named kardamomon. Eventually, the Romans started importing substantial quantities of cardamom from India and regarded them as one of the most popular oriental spices in the Roman cuisine. Most of the cardamom was supplied from the evergreen monsoon forests of southern India and Sri Lanka. In 1903, cardamom plantation was abolished due to excessive production in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, which led to low prices. The British colonies spread the plantation of cardamom in other parts of India as a secondary crop. Today, cardamom is largely used as an aromatic spice in Eastern, Arab and some Scandinavian cuisines.
Main Name: Cardamom
Biological Name: Elettaria cardamomum
Hindi Name: Chhoti ilaichi, Elaichi, Hari ilaichi
Names in other Indian languages: Yelakkai, Elakkai (Tamil), Elathari (Malayalam), Yealak kayulu, Elakkayi (Telugu), Elaychi (Gujarati), Choto elach (Bengali), Velchil, Veldoda (Marathi), Alaichi (Oriya), Hari ilaichi, Elaichi, (Punjabi), Elaichi, Choti alaichi (Urdu)
Cardamom, botanically known as Elettaria cardamomum, hails from the family of Zingiberaceae, or ginger. Three types of cardamom are found – green cardamom, brown cardamom and Madagascar cardamom.
Cardamom is native to the evergreen forests of India,the Middle East and North Africa. This spice is commonly used in Indian cuisine, highly valued for its pleasant aroma, slightly pungent taste, and warm sensation.
Cardamom isn’t just tasty, it’s healthy, too.It’s good adding cardamom to your food for the flavor alone, health benefits of the spices are also there. It is considered as ‘Queen of Spices’ . Due to the aromatic fragrance it exudes, gorgeous and mouth-watering delicacies are prepared with it . Referred by the names ‘Grains of Paradise’, ela, elachi, and elaichi amongst several others, cardamom is a versatile spice that adds an equally delicious and aromatic flavor to both pungent and sweet dishes. Grind the seeds into powder, or use whole pods; cardamom adds the right flavor to any delicacy, particularly when cracked a little just before being tossed in the preparations. Taste improves of any meal by adding this lovely spice. This Spices is the second largest consumed spice in the world, after black pepper, and world’s second most expensive spice, after the saffron.
With several essential nutrients and natural minerals present in cardamom, the health benefits and medicinal qualities are numerous. and glance through the following sections to discover the health benefits cardamom has to offer.
Health Benefits of Cardamom:
- The high concentration of lenoleic acid improves blood circulation in the lungs by the blood thinning action; hence cardamom is beneficial for relieving the symptoms of asthma and bronchitis.
- Oral administration of cardamom seeds is known for inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, with rare cases of completely destroying the cells.
- Regular consumption of cardamom treats high cholesterol levels and reduces high blood pressure; thus, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Due to its natural anti-bacterial property, cardamom helps in neutralizing dental bacteria, thereby fighting bad breath and other oral health issues.
- An infusion of cardamom and cinnamon is used for curing pharyngitis, sore throat, uvula relaxation and hoarseness during the infective stage of influenza.
- Cardamom has been highly effective in treating gastrointestinal problems, like indigestion, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation, upset stomachs and flatulence.
- Due to its anti-spasmodic properties, cardamom helps in preventing spasms and convulsions.
- Inflamed nerves and backaches have been known to be successfully treated with the application of cardamom oil or consuming cardamom seeds.
- Cardamom boosts appetite in anorexic patients, a disorder characterized by excessive weight loss. Consuming cardamom increases hunger pangs, thereby helping in the recovery process.
- Cardamom stimulates the natural process of detoxification through sweating and urination, thereby purifying the entire body and strengthening the kidneys and urinary system.
- By reducing the air and water elements, cardamom relieves stomach dyspepsia, cures indigestion and soothes the mucus membrane. As such, the gas and heartburn caused by garlic and onion is effectively relieved by cardamom.
- Cardamom, when mixed with banana leaf powder and amla juice, is an excellent diuretic for treating gonorrhea (inflammation of the urethra or vagina), cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) and burning or infrequent urination.
- Cardamom, when added to tea, gives a pleasant aroma, which serves as an effective remedy for depression.
- It has stimulating effects that secretes various enzymes and hormones, gastric juices, peristaltic motion, circulation and excretion; thereby maintaining proper metabolism.
- When combined with honey and other spices, cardamom acts as an effective cure for laryngitis and tuberculosis.
- Cardamom acts as a natural health tonic, when taken at bedtime, diluted with milk and honey. Besides, it is effective in preventing memory loss.
How many calories in cardamom (per 100 gm)
Cardamom has about 311 calories per 100 gm of weight.
How to Buy Cardamom
- Cardamom is available as whole pods and in powdered forms in the market all round the year.
- You can easily find both varieties of cardamom. ‘Elettaria’ pods are small and light green in color, while ‘Amomum’ pods are larger and dark brown.
- To check the freshness of the pods, scratch the pod with your fingertip. In case it gives off a sweet aroma, the pod has passed the test.
- Do not buy pods that are light in color and have stains, spots or molds.
Cardamom Storage Tips
- Always store cardamom pods in an airtight container in a cool, dark and dry place.
- When placed in the refrigerator, cardamom pods retain their freshness for longer durations.
- Powdered cardamom should always be kept in a tightly sealed container and should be used at the earliest as it tends to lose its flavor quickly.
Tip: Chew on elaichi regularly after every meal. The best way to keep acidity at bay is to avoid sitting right after you have eating; instead walk around a bit while chewing on the elaichi pod and you should feel much better.
If you suffer from indigestion this tip is for you. Take a two to three pods of cardamom, a small piece of ginger, a few pieces of cloves and a few dhania seeds. Grind them well and eat this with warm water. It acts as an instant remedy for indigestion, bloating and gas.
Another great remedy for headaches caused due to indigestion is to make cardamom tea. All you need to do is infuse it into some regular green tea and drink it while it’s warm. This mixture works well right at the onset of the symptoms of indigestion.
If you have a cold, cough or a congested chest , elaichi is the best natural remedy to relieve the symptoms. All you need to do is add a few drop of elaichi’s essential oil to your vessel of steaming water during steam inhalation.
Cardamom culinary uses :
Cardamom spice is a highly aromatic spice that is most commonly used in Eastern, Arab, and some Scandinavian cuisines. Its unique slightly sweet and savory flavor allows it to be combined with both sweet and savory dishes.
Cardamom seed’s ability to enhance so many types of food is why it is a good combination with a wide range of other ingredients from seafood to sauces, to meats, poultry, vegetables, and even desserts, pastries, and other baked goods.
Numerous flavorful little cardamom seeds are encased within a single cardamom pod that are green in color when fresh. Cardamom spice has a complex flavor that can be described as slightly sweet, floral, and spicy with citric elements.
It leaves the tongue with a warm antiseptic sensation similar to eucalyptus with an additional peppery after taste. Some have described its flavor as spicy and cola-like. Grind cardamom from one of the whole forms of the spice to ensure a superior flavor and aroma, both of which are quickly lost when the spice is pre-ground.
Many traditional Indian dishes feature different varieties of cardamom. Elettaria, or green cardamom, is combined with condensed milk and sugar to make sweets collectively referred to as mithai. Green cardamom is also used to flavor coffee and teas, most notably Masala chai.
Since culinary connoisseurs consider green cardamon the premium variety, it is commonly used to flavor meats, poultry, seafood, vegetable dishes, soups and sauces. In contrast, Amomum, or black cardamom, imparts a slightly mint-like flavor and is an ingredient in garam masala, a seasoning blend used to flavor curries and rice dishes.
Ground cardamom is convenient to have for baking and other applications where the spice needs to be ground. Freshness and thus flavor are of course compromised when cardamom is pre ground because it loses flavor soon after grinding. To appreciate cardamom’s true flavor we suggest grinding it before use in a spice mill, electric coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle.
White cardamom that was commonly available in the North America and Europe had been bleached to achieve its color, or lack of it. It is used in baking and some desserts because its color helps keep light colored batters, sauces, and confections speck free. The bleaching process also destroyed much of the cardamom’s flavor leading to white cardamom’s decline in popularity.
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