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Cardamom

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What is cardamom?

Green or black cardamom is a pod of plants in the ginger family. Cardamom seeds can be ground separately or together with the peel for more flavour. There are two types of cardamom: black and green, with green being the most popular.

Cardamom has a pleasant, warm flavour that goes well in savoury dishes but also in hot drinks such as coffee, teas or hot chocolate.
This spice is antimicrobial, is rich in antioxidants and can help improve oral health.

Cardamom can be paired with bread, muffins, cakes, curries, lamb, chicken, fruit pies, oats and rice.


Cardamom or cardamom? Both are correct, cardamom being an alternative spelling. My advice, spell it or pronounce it as you learned it. 
If you still want to see how it was Googled in the year 2022, I've added two captions here. 

Where does cardamom come from?

Green cardamom is native to the mountain ranges of Kerala state in southwest India. In this tropical paradise, cardamom is called the "queen of spices."

Cardamom is also native to Sri Lanka. Until the 19th century, small cardamom (Ehttana Cardamomum Maton) and wild cardamom were harvested in India and Sri Lanka from wild plants. Orderly cultivation did not really take place until the present, starting only in the 20th century.

Cardamom paste and seeds
Cardamom pods and cardamom seeds

Black Cardamom

This spice has long been considered a substitute, an inferior variant of green cardamom and until the 20th century, it was used predominantly in the perfume industry.

Black cardamom was cultivated by the Lepcha community of Sikkim, an area in northeast India, and only since 1960 has it been cultivated outside this community. The community's inhabitants used it for medicinal purposes and very rarely for cooking, but in China the culinary value of black cardamom has been appreciated for centuries.

Today, black cardamom is also grown in Nepal, Bhutan (a Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas) or Darjeeling (east of Bengal).

Note. When buying black cardamom, buy the whole pods, not just the seeds as they easily lose their volatile oils and flavour.

Chinese black cardamom(cao guo) has much larger pods than the Indian version, but tastes almost similar and can be a good substitute.

Black cardamom is suitable for slow-cooking recipes and is used in Vietnamese meat soup recipes, mixed with other spices and rice.

Black Cardamom
Black Cardamom

Benefits of Cardamom

Also called the 'Queen of Sp ices' because of its delicate and pleasant aroma, which comes from its rich and varied content of over 25 volatile oils, cardamom comes with a number of therapeutic effects.

The most medicinally active is CINEOL oil which has a strong antioxidant effect.

In traditional Eastern medicine, cardamom has been used to treat an impressive variety of health problems, including heart disease, respiratory ailments (bronchial asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu) and all forms of digestive problems, from bad breath and colic to constipation and diarrhea.

Over the past 20 years, dozens of studies have shown that the volatile oils in cardamom are powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agents that can work together to improve digestion and beyond.

The latest finding shows that it prevents colon cancer by fighting cancer cells in the colon in several ways. Cardamom reduces the inflammation that fuels cancer development by preventing cancer cells from dividing and killing.

So, by regularly using this spice in our culinary preparations, we will benefit both from a special flavour and from the prevention of some diseases that could disturb our peace of life.

Buying and storing cardamom

Good quality cardamom pods should have a deep, green colour with no spots or discoloured portions. Pods that are already open at one end should be avoided, as this tells us that they were picked late. As a result, the cardamom will have a low content of volatile oils after the pod has dried, which will decrease its properties.

Already ground cardamom is not recommended, unless it has been freshly ground (and you have this guarantee).

Store cardamom in airtight container, away from extreme heat, light or moisture. In these conditions, cardamom can be stored for up to one year.

Cardamom preservation

Use of Cardamom

It is an excellent condiment for sweets, drinks or savoury dishes.

The taste is sweet, slightly pungent and fragrant, so it should be used sparingly. Traditionally, cardamom has been used in pastries, cakes, fruit desserts. It is also used in biryani, one of the most popular Indian dishes containing basmati rice.

In the Middle East, cardamom is used in coffee, with a single opened pod being sufficient in a serving of coffee, giving it a refreshing taste.


Cardamom can be combined with:

  • All Spices
  • Chimen
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander seeds
  • Chimion
  • Fennel seeds
  • Chilli peppers
  • Anason
  • Turmeric

Cardamom is included in spice mixes like:

  • Chai
  • Curry powder
  • Ras el hanout
  • Baharat
  • Garam masala
  • Mix for tagine

Recipe | Basmati Rice with Cardamom

Ingredients:

  • 375g brown rice (about one and a half cups)
  • A tablespoon of salt
  • A cube of butter (approx. 20g)
  • A cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cardamom pods (press gently with the palm of your hand to loosen)
  • Half a yellow (or white) onion
  • A pinch of saffron soaked in 30 ml of warm water.
  • A bay leaf
  • Half a litre of chicken or vegetable soup

In a bowl, place the rice and cover it with cold water then add a tablespoon of salt (you can remove the salt if you can't eat it for health reasons). Stir and leave covered for about two hours. Discard the water and then rinse with cold water.

Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and place over a moderate heat. Put in a cube of butter then add the chopped onion. Stir until the onions lose their white colour (about 2-3 minutes).

Add cinnamon, cardamom, saffron with all the soaking water and bay leaf. Stir for a minute and add the soup. Let it boil, then reduce the temperature (flame). Add the lid and leave the pan on the heat for 10 minutes.

Remove rice from heat, cover and set aside until ready to serve.

Be healthy!

Next articleCurry powder
I am passionate about spices and have been researching them and using them frequently for a few years now. I try to simplify the information in books as much as possible and bring it into the digital space in a useful, easy to navigate form. If you haven't found the answer to your question about certain spices, please leave a comment below.

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