Spice of the Day - Cardamon

5:40 AM

Cardamom is one of the world’s very ancient spices. It is native to the East originating in the forests of the western ghats in southern India, where it grows wild. Today it also grows in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Indo China and Tanzania.



Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. Black cardamom has a distinctly more smoky, though not bitter, aroma with a coolness some consider similar to mint.


It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and is often used in baking in Nordic countries, such as in the Finnish sweet bread or in the Scandinavian bread Julekake. Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight but 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. However, high-quality ground cardamom is often more readily (and cheaply) available and is an acceptable substitute. For recipes requiring whole cardamom pods, a generally accepted equivalent is 10 pods equals 1½ teaspoons of ground cardamom.

 In the Middle East, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes as well as traditional flavouring in coffee and tea. Cardamom pods are ground together with coffee beans to produce a powdered mixture of the two, which is boiled with water to make coffee. Cardamom is also used in some extent in savoury dishes.called "Buah Pelaga". In some Middle Eastern countries, coffee and cardamom are often ground in a wooden mortar; a mihbaj, and cooked together in a skillet; a "mehmas" over wood or gas, to produce mixtures that are as much as forty percent cardamom. In South Asia, green cardamom is often used in traditional Indian sweets and in chai. Black cardamom is sometimes used in  garam masala for curries. It is occasionally used as a garnish in basmati rice and other dishes.

Green cardamom in South Asia is broadly used to treat infections in teeth and gum, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It also is used to break up kidney stones and gall stones, and was reportedly used as an  for both snake and scorpion venom.

 Until recently, Nepal has been the world's largest producer of large cardamom. Guatemala has become the world's largest producer and exporter of cardamom, with an export total of US$137.2 million for 2007.


Other names:
Cardamon, Lesser Cardamom
French: cardamome
German: Kardamom
Italian: cardamomo, cardamone
Spanish: cardamomo
Burmese: phalazee
Chinese: ts’ao-k’ou
Indian: chhoti elachi, e(e)lachie, ela(i)chi, illaichi
Indonesian: kapulaga
Malay: buah pelaga
Sinhalese: enasal
Tamil: elam
Thai: grawahn, kravan

Recipes using cardamon:Kazakh Chai

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