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Cardamom




Cardamom

True Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genera

Amomum
Elettaria

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.

Additional recommended knowledge

Contents

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:

  • Elettaria (commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom) is distributed from India to Malaysia.
  • Amomum (commonly known as black cardamom, brown cardamom, Kravan, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Siamese cardamom, white or red cardamom) is distributed mainly in Asia and Australia.

Uses

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,

  • Elettaria cardamomum (the usual type of cardamom) is used as a spice, a masticatory, and in medicine; it is also sometimes smoked; it is used as a food plant by the larva of the moth Endoclita hosei.
  • Amomum is used as an ingredient in traditional systems of medicine in China, India, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
  • In the Middle East and Turkey, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes as well as traditional flavouring in coffee and tea. It is also used to some extent in some dish recipes. In Arabic, cardamom is called al-Hayl.
  • In South Asia green cardamom is often used in traditional Indian sweets and in tea, or chai. Black cardamom is sometimes used in garam masala for curries. It is often referred to by its size as being 'Moti Elaichi' or fat cardamom. In Hindi and Urdu cardamom is called elaichi. It is called Elakka in Malayalam, which is the language of Kerala an Indian province that accounts for 70% of Indian cardamom.[1]
  • In Northern Europe, cardamom is commonly used in sweet foods.
  • It has also been known to be used for making gin.

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.

Gallery

References

    General

    1. Mabberley, D.J. The Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of the Higher Plants. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
    2. Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages: Cardamom
    3. Plant Cultures: botany and history of Cardamom
    4. Pham Hoang Ho 1993, Cay Co Vietnam [Plants of Vietnam: in Vietnamese], vols. I, II & III, Montreal.
    5. Buckingham, J.S. & Petheram, R.J. 2004, Cardamom cultivation and forest biodiversity in northwest Vietnam, Agricultural Research and Extension Network, Overseas Development Institute, London UK.
    6. Aubertine, C. 2004, Cardamom (Amomum spp.) in Lao PDR: the hazardous future of an agroforest system product, in 'Forest products, livelihoods and conservation: case studies of non-timber forest products systems vol. 1-Asia, Center for International Forest Research. Jakarta, Indonesia.
     
    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.
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