Green Cardamom- The Queen of Spices
Cardamom is one of the world’s very ancient spices. Its nativity belongs to the east as the forests of Western Ghats in Southern India abodes its origin. Today it is also grown in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Indo China and Tanzania.
Green Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight and it is best stored in pod form.
About Plant & Cultivation
It is a perennial bush of the ginger family, with sheathed stems reaching 2-5m (6-16 feet) in height. It has a large tuberous rhizome and long, dark green leaves 30-60 cm (1-2 ft) long, 5-15 cm (2-6”) wide.
It breeds in the tropics, wild and in plantations. Trailing leafy stalks grow from the plant base at ground level. These bear the seed pods. The flowers are green with a white purple-veined tip.
Cardamoms are traditionally grown in partially cleared tropical rain forests, leaving some shade. Similarly, in plantation cultivation, forest undergrowth is cleared and trees thinned to give just enough shade and the rhizome or seeds planted at 3m (10 ft) intervals.
The plants are gathered in October-December, before they ripen, to avoid the capsules splitting during drying. They are dried in the sun or bleached with sulphur fumes.
Health & Hygiene
This spice, a bouquet of pungent, warm and aroma having warm and eucalyptine flavour with camphorous and lemony undertones, serves as a medicine and hygiene factor to human kind.
Cardamom seeds are chewed by ancient Egyptians as a tooth cleaner, as it fights mouth ulcers and infections of the mouth and throat as well. It was used a perfume by the Greeks and the Romans.
It is used to counteract digestive problems, combat nausea, infection, acidity, bloating, indigestion, constipation and loss of appetite. This spice helps the body to eliminate waste through the Kidneys. It helps to clean out the urinary tract, bladder and also removes salt, excess water and toxins. It significantly lowers blood pressure.
It also prevents and relieves cold and flu symptoms, bronchitis and coughs. It protects body from cancer, hinders growth of viruses, bacteria, fungus and mold and even kills some cancers. It also prevents dangerous blood clots by checking platelet aggregation and the sticking to the artery walls.
The presence of the vitamins, phytonutrients and essential oils in cardamom act as antioxidants, cleanse up free radicals and resists cellular ageing. It has some anti-inflammatory properties that limit pain and swelling, especially in mucus membranes, the mouth and throat.
Cardamom as an anti-spasmodic helps to get rid of hiccups. It also applies to spasms like stomach and intestinal cramps.
In India, it is usually used after meals as a breath freshener. Ayurveda suggest it as an antidepressant and as a powerful aphrodisiac.
It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking and is often used in baking in the Nordic countries, in particular in Sweden & Finland, where it is used in traditional treats such as Finnish sweet bread and in the Scandinavian Christmas bread.
In the Middle East green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes, as well as traditional flavouring in coffee and tea.
In India green cardamom is said to be festive spice as it is used in traditional Indian sweets and in typical Indian spiced tea. It is often used for garnishing basmati rice and other dishes. It is also included in gin and herbal teas.
It is also chewed habitually in the East Indies and also an essential ingredient in the Indian Masticory, betel pan.