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The name cardamom (or cardamon) is used for herbs within two genera of the ginger family Zingiberaceae, namely Elettaria and Amomum. Both varieties take the form of a small seedpod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green in color, while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown.
Types of cardamom and their distribution
The two main genera of the ginger family that are named as forms of cardamom are distributed as follows:
The most common form of cardamom - green cardamom - is used as a flavoring, mainly for coffee and also less commonly for tea.
In some Middle Eastern countries, coffee and cardamom are often cooked and ground together in a mihbaz, an oven using wood or gas, and in a wooden mortar to produce mixtures that are as much as forty percent cardamom. In some cultures, the grinding is ritualized and accompanied by singing and dancing.
All the different cardamom species and varieties are used mainly as cooking spices and as medicines. In general,
Uses in cuisines around the world
Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. Black cardamom has a distinctly more astringent aroma, though not bitter, with a coolness similar to mint, though with a different aroma. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and is often used in baking in Nordic countries, such as in the Finnish sweet-bread pulla. It is one of the most expensive spices by weight, and little is needed to impart the flavor. Cardamom is best stored in pod form, because once the seeds are exposed or ground, they quickly lose their flavor. However, high-quality ground cardamom is often more readily (and cheaply) available, and is an acceptable substitute. For recipes requiring whole cardamom pods, a generally accepted equivalent is 10 pods equals 1½ teaspoons of ground cardamom.
In traditional medicine
In South Asia, green cardamom called "Elaichi", in Hindi and Urdu, is broadly used to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It is also reportedly used as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.
Species in the genus Amomum are also used in traditional Indian medicine. Among other species, varieties and cultivars, Amomum villosum cultivated in China, Laos and Vietnam is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat stomach-aches, constipation, dysentery, and other digestion problems. "Tsaoko" cardamom Amomum tsao-ko is cultivated in Yunnan, China and northwest Vietnam, both for medicinal purposes and as a spice. Increased demand since the 1980s, principally from China, for both Amomum villosum and Amomum tsa-ko has provided a key source of income for poor farmers living at higher altitudes in localized areas of China, Laos and Vietnam, people typically isolated from many other markets. Recently, Nepal has been the world's largest producer of Cardamom.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cardamom". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|