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India is the land of cardamom—Cardamom Hills in southern India are filled with precious pods growing wild on the roots of cardamom bushes.

· Spice

It was a bright sunny but breezy day of October… I ran upstairs to the kitchen skipping few steps to witness the preparations of “Diwali,festival of lights” sweets. Mom was busy making chickpea flour sweet balls (besan ladoos) and ready to sprinkle cardamom powder to the mix…. It meant the ladoo mixture was ready… even now while I am writing this blog, the nostalgic sweet aroma of cardamom feels my heart..

It’s a very common practice to add ground cardamom to every dessert we make in India….

Cardamom is truly known as the “Queen of Spices”, Cardamom’s delicately pleasing, unique aroma and flavor comes from its rich and varied content of more than 25 volatile oils, plant compounds. The antioxidant cineole (which is also found in bay leaf) is the most medicinally active of its oils.

You have to experience the smell of a cardamom pod, If you haven’t , you are missing out so much…

Lets explore more….

India is the land of cardamom—Cardamom Hills in southern India are filled with precious pods growing wild on the roots of cardamom bushes.

Native to Southwestern India, Guatemala is said to be the world’s largest exporter and producer of this spice, followed closely by India.
Today, cardamom is most popular in India, Iran, Morocco, and the Arab nations.

There are two types of cardamom
1. Smaller green cardamom is lighter and pricier. It is commonly used to spice the sweet dishes and add flavor to coffees teas and baked goods. Green cardamoms have healing properties and are used in treating many health problems.
2. Larger black cardamom: Black cardamoms have smoky aroma. It is used for heavily spiced dishes such as curries and biryanis.

Uses around the world

Cardamom is used in Arabian cooking, it grants its sweet aroma to savory curries and other dishes. It is a tradition in Arab homes to serve cardamom-flavored coffee called “gahira” to guests as a sign of hospitality and generosity. 80% of the world’s cardamom is used by the Arab-speaking nations for their signature coffee. To make Arabian coffee with cardamom, shove a cardamom pod into the narrow part of spout and then pour. When the hot coffee passes through the pod, it gives the coffee it’s aromatic refreshing taste.

It is a main ingredient in the Moroccan spice mix ras-el-hanout and the well-known Indian mix garam masala.
Cardamom is also the flavor that has gained Turkish coffee an international reputation.

In Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, cardamom is used to flavor cakes, sweet breads, pastries, and pickled fruits and vegetables.
It is also used to flavor glögg, a hot spiced wine popular during the cold winters of Sweden.

In Germany, cardamom is a popular spice for making Christmas sweets, especially the popular cookie call lebkuchen.
It is also used in Indian sweets called halva, and in puddings, yogurt, custards, and ice cream.

It gives the distinctive bouquet to India’s popular yogurt-based stews called kormas and rice dishes called biryanis.

It is an important ingredient in the Indian hot spiced tea called chai masala, which in recent years has become popular in the US.

How to use cardamom?

• Spice your morning coffee like Arab-speaking countries. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of putting a bruised pod in the neck of a formal coffee pot, drop a crushed pod or two in the brewed pot from your coffeemaker and strain the coffee into your mug or cup. Consider one pod per two cups of coffee.

• Put one or two bruised cardamom pods in the liquid when making rice, add a pinch of ground cardamom to rice pilaf.

• Sprinkle ground cardamom and a little sugar on grapefruit.

• Add a half teaspoon of ground cardamom to gingerbread or chocolate cake recipes.

• Add crushed cardamom seeds to Bananas Foster and other sweet fruit desserts.

• Add a teaspoon of ground cardamom to your vanilla cupcake recipe and vanilla pie fillings.

• Rub cardamom on a lamb roast before putting it on a spit.

Health Benefits

1. Cardamom enhances Appetite Cardamom and cardamom oil can be used as an appetite stimulant, for treating a lack of appetite. Chewing cardamom after meals aids in digestion and helps to overcome nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn and constipation.

2. Cardamom is great as a Diuretic. Diuretic is a substance that causes an increase in the production of urine. Cardamom is a very good detoxifier and has the diuretic properties. It helps clean out the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys, removing waste, salt, excess water, toxins, and fighting infections too. It helps in cleansing the body by helping the body remove waste through the kidneys.

3. Breath freshener. Cardamom is used in treatment of Halitosis. It is typically served as a breath freshener after meals in the Middle East and India. Cineole in cardamom is an antiseptic that kills bacteria causing bad breath. Cardamom also cleans the teeth and freshens the breath. It has an ability to wipe out even stubborn “garlic breath” after eating a heavily spiced meal.

Home remedies

1. Chew a pod of cardamom after meals for digestion.
2. For treating lack of appetite add ground cardamom to the cooked food.
3. For easy digestion of milk add small amount of ground cardamom and dry ginger.