Cardamom is one of the most popular and expensive aromatic spice herbs from the Zingiberaceae family. Scientifically called as Elletaria cardamomum this variety hails from India and as having medicinal properties is mentioned in vedic texts and in Ayurvedic medicine.
Cardamom is extensively used for savory and sweet dishes especially for its aromatic flavor and taste. Cardamom is called as Hayl or Habahan is Arabic, Elaichi in Hindi, Yaalukalu in Telugu. In South Asian countries, green cardamom is mostly used in traditional sweets and in making of Masala chai (special spiced tea) is also used in some extent in savoury dishes. In some Middle Eastern countries, coffee and cardamom are often ground in a wooden mortar and cooked together in a skillet over wood or gas, to produce mixtures that are as much as forty percent cardamom.
There are several plants of the general Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both of them are native to India and are recognized by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green known as green or true cardamom that is distributed from India to Malaysia while the Amomum pods are larger and dark brown commonly known as brown cardamom, java cardamom, Bengal cardamom or white cardamom and are distributed mainly in Asia and Australia. The word cardamom is derived from the Latin word cardamomum, the latinisation of the Greek term kardamon, cress + amonmon, a kind of an Indian spice plant.The earliest attested form of the word kardamon is the Mycenaean Greek ka-da-mi-ja, written in Linear B syllabic script.
Initially there were three natural varieties of green cardamom plants namely the Malabar (Nadan/ Native), Mysore and the Vazhuka. Malabar is the native variety of Kerala and these plants have panicles which grow horizontally along the ground. Mysore is the native variety of Karnataka and the plants panicles grow vertically upwards. Vazhuka is naturally hybrid between Malabar and Mysore varieties and the panicles grow neither vertically nor horizontally but in between.
Green and black cardamom, both forms of cardamom is used as flavorings in both food and drink, as cooking spices and as a medicine. Elettaria cardamomum (the usual type of cardamom) is used as a spice, a masticatory, and in medicine; it is also smoked sometimes.
Cardamom has a strong, unique with strong aroma and taste, resinous fragrance while black cardamom has a distinctly smoky, though not bitter, aroma with a coolness some consider similar to mint. It is a common and vital ingredient flavoring many dishes in Indian cooking and often used in baking and making of sweets.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.
In the most of the Asian and Middle East countries, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes as well as traditional flavoring in coffee and tea. Black cardamom is sometimes used in garam masala for curries. It is occasionally used as a garnish in basmati rice and other dishes. It is often referred to as fat cardamom due its size (‘Moti Elaichi’). The seeds of the Cardamom are also chewed as mouth freshener. Cardamom is also been known to be used for gin making, and in curries. In India, cardamom is used to flavor the biryanis, pulaos, and cakes. It is also used for making the spice powder called the garam masala which is used for preparing the tandoori chicken and meat dishes. It is also used for flavoring the vegetarian dishes such as saag paneer etc. Elaichi is popularly used for making the famous kheer or payasam. It also works well in herbal infusions and health tonics, chai lattes and even coffee.
Cardamom had been used as a traditional medicine broadly used in South Asia to treat infections in teeth and gums which prevents and treats 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 antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.
Amomum is used as a spice and as an ingredient in traditional medicine in systems of the traditional Chinese medicine in China, in Ayurveda in India, Pakistan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Species in the genus Amomum are also used in traditional Indian medicine.
As early as the 4th century BC Cardamom was used in India as a medicinal herb. Greeks and Romans imported it as a digestive aid. In Sweden it has become a more popular spice than cinnamon. A small amount of Cardamom adds a tempting flavor to coffee cake, Danish pastry, specialty breads, and apple pie. Try Cardamom the Arabic way and add a little to your ground coffee before brewing, then sweeten and top with cream. Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world and is used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Cardamom plants are natives to the southwest regions of India and were popular in many other countries, like, China, Rome, Egypt, Persia, etc. since 5000 years.
Many of us use the cardamom without knowing its important. It has many health benefits and is used in treating digestive disorders. It also helps relieving heartburn, bloating and indigestion. Cardamom is also good in improving appetite and prevents stomach infections. It is said to be good for kidneys and the spice promotes urination, lowering blood pressure and helps in removing accumulated calcium and urea in the kidneys.
Cardamom has a detoxifying effect and is also used for its anti septic and anti microbial actions. Apart from that, cardamom benefits include its use in treating muscular and respiratory spasms. Cardamom oils are used for messages in Ayurveda massage parlor and ease muscle tension and gradually give a whole physical relief. The volatile oils extracts from cardamom is used for improving metabolism. It is used in the cure of halitosis. Cardamom powder mixed tea is a delicious drink which cures physical depression. It may help relieve nausea and vomiting. It can help detoxify against excessive caffeine. It is effective in fighting pulmonary disease with copious phlegm. Cardamom tea helps to cure headache caused by indigestion.
Cardamom is rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium and has good amount of iron, sodium and manganese present in it. Small amount of zinc and copper is found in it and has good amount of Vitamin C. It has small amount of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and Vitamin B6. 100g of Cardamom has 311 calories and calories from fat are 56.