Because of the female name it carries, in South India cardamom has been dubbed "Queen of spices". Cardamom is an exotic spice that is widely applied in Eastern cuisine, but also in treating certain health ailments. The taste of cardamom spice is spicy. It belongs to the family of ginger. The Latin name of cardamom is Elettaria cardamomum.
Nature of cardamom
Cardamom is a perennial plant that reaches a height of between 1.80 and 3.60 m. It forms green seed pods that are dried and the seeds are used in cooking whole or ground. The color of the seeds varies from brownish-green, reaching all the way to black and white in artificial seeds. Considered to be the finest and most expensive, green cardamom is much loved. White cardamom grains are prized as the most aesthetic. They are obtained after bleaching black cardamom.
History of cardamom
Cardamom is an ancient spice that in India is well known for hundreds of years before Christ. This specific spice comes from the tropical jungles of India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Sumatra. According to official information, it was brought to Europe for the first time around in 1200, but the truth is that on the Old Continent cardamom emerges with trade caravans from the East to ancient Greece and Rome.
Even Hippocrates wrote in his writings on the nature of cardamom. He describes a plant that grows in Southern India and reached ancient Greece and Rome through trade with the East. Already in the early stages of spreading, cardamom was famous for its various benefits to people. Besides being an infamous aphrodisiac, it was used in the perfume industry. In the Middle Ages, it was banned by the church, considered too sensual for priests.
Application of cardamom
Cardamom is an expensive spice. It ranks second in price only after the spice saffron, and some believe it is third, being overtaken by vanilla. In contrast, however, a few grains of cardamom are enough to flavor a whole dish. Cardamom is used in Indian and Asian cuisine whole or ground. Instead of grinding beans, often the whole pods are used in cooking.
Ground cardamom is an essential ingredient of curry powder. The trademark Middle East Cardamom is put in coffee and other countries like Iran use it in tea. Particularly common in Bedouin culture is to ejoy coffee with cardamom. In India, it is added as an ingredient to herbal teas called "Yogi Tea." The Indian state of Sikkim did the first cultivation and production of the spice in the country.
Today, cardamom is grown in Nepal, Thailand and Central America, 60% of the world production of cardamom is exported to Arab countries - Southwest Asia and North Africa. Cardamom has a very strong, specific and unique taste, together with a very strong flavor. Well Cardamom is all stored in the pods, as after grinding the seeds quickly lose their flavor.
Because of the strong flavor, cardamom should be used in small quantities. In Nordic cuisine, it is a favorite in the preparation of baked dishes. In Arab countries it is used to flavor both local sweets like halva and salty dishes of rice and meat, known as pilaf.
In India, cardamom is optional ingredient curries and Garam Masala. While in Europe cardamom is little known, it is widely used in Germany, where it is used to flavor sweets. Scandinavian countries remain the biggest European importers of cardamom. The eastern spice is used to flavor both cakes, baked breads and pastries as well as some types of sausages.
Benefits of cardamom
Cardamom is not only an unique culinary spice, but it is also used as medicine. According to the ancient Hindu teaching Ayurveda, cardamom gives the strength of character to do good, avoid conflicts and forgive insults. Through its use, you overcome conflicts in the family and build tolerance of unpleasant people.
Cardamom fight intrusive thoughts and helps avoid unnecessary purchases, says the doctrine of Ayurveda. In Indian folk medicine, Cardamom treats upset stomach, sore throat, migraines, and when combined with milk and honey - impotence. Just a pinch of cardamom in coffee and tea drinks changes them dramatically, they become far more refreshing, energizing, and act as an aphrodisiac.