What is Cardamom?
Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. They are native to India.it is also cultivated in some other countries, such as Guatemala, Malaysia and Tanzania.
The Cardamom seed pods are spindle shaped and triangular in shape, with a thin papery outer shell and a number of black seeds inside.
Types of cardamom
- Green Cardamom (Elettaria pods) are light green and smaller.They are distributed from India to Malaysia.
- Black Cardamom ( Amomum pods) are larger and dark brown in color. Native to Eastern Himalayan region in India, mostly cultivated in Eastern Nepal, Sikkim, and parts of Darjeeling district in West Bengal of India, and southern Bhutan.
What is the flavor of Cardamom spice?
Cardamom has a strong, pungent, sweet, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance with hint of lemon and mint. If a cardamom recipe calls for just plain “cardamom”, it means green cardamom.
Black cardamom has a distinctly more smoky, though not bitter, aroma, with a coolness some consider similar to mint.Black cardamom has a distinctly smokier aroma and is more suited for savory dishes.
Which countries use Cardamom in their cooking?
In Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, you will find cardamom being used as a spice in most of the recipes. While Indian cooking involves more of the whole cardamom pods in their rice dishes and curries, occasionally using powdered cardamom in our sweet dishes, Middle Eastern cooking leans more towards ground cardamom in their desserts.
Did you know that Sweden is one of the countries that consume the most cardamom? Since cardamom pairs well with spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg it is often used in spiced Fall recipes.In Sweden, cardamom is employed to season everything from baked goods to hamburgers and meatloaves.
How is Cardamom spice used in recipes?
Cardamom’s pungent, warm aroma works well in both sweet and savory dishes.It needs to be paired with ingredients that can stand up to its intense fragrance. In Indian cooking rice dishes, meaty curries and sweet dishes are flavored with cardamom.
In rice dishes, cardamom along with cloves and cinnamon can infuse a deep , warm and satisfying flavor. In sweet dishes, along with saffron, cardamom can transform ordinary dishes into something out of this world with their flavor.
Black cardamom has a distinctly smokier aroma and is more suited for savory dishes.
It is best to use whole pods in a recipe, but if the recipe calls for the powdered version, it is best to make it fresh instead of buying it from the store, where it has been sitting in the spice aisle for a long time.
Start with toasting the green cardamom in a dry skillet for a few minutes & let it cool. Now remove the seeds from the pods ( they will be easier to peel now), save the pods to flavor your tea or coffee later. Grind the cardamom seeds with. a simple mortar and pestle or with a spice or coffee grinder and use it in your recipe.The flavors in the dish will be rich when cardamom is freshly powdered and added to a recipe.
Garam masala, the Indian spice mixture has cardamom as one of the ingredients along with spices like clove, cinnamon, nutmeg etc.
Why is cardamom so expensive?
Green Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight in the world. Only a few others, such as Saffron and Vanilla, are more expensive. The main reason this spice is so expensive is because it needs to be harvested by hand. It is a very labor-intensive handpicking process.
Cardamom’s diversity is matched by its potency. There are about 10-12 black seeds in one cardamom pod. We are lucky in that we only have to use a few seeds to flavor or season a dish, considering how expensive a spice cardamom is.
What are the health benefits of Cardamom?
- Is great for curing and boosting digestive health.
- Its antibacterial properties are good in getting rid of foul breath.
- Used in aromatherapy to enhance body’s ability to use oxygen intake during exercise. This in turn supposedly increase airflow to the lungs thus improving breathing.
- Employed in traditional medicine in treating anxiety & depression (needs more scientific research to merit the actual benefits of the spice itself!)
Have you used Cardamom in your recipes ? If so, how do you use them? Do you use the whole pods or the powdered version.
Do share in your comments below.