Cardamom is a spice created using the seeds of the plants that fall under the Elettaria and Amomum genera of the Zingiberaceae family. They are recognizable through their distinct small and black seeds and seed pods having a papery and thin outer shell.
The spice is also known as cardamum or cardamon.
Applications of Cardamom as a Spice
Cardamom proffers a unique taste along with an intense aroma and resinous fragrance. The black cardamoms have a more distinct smoky flavor with a mint-like coolness in their smell and mouthfeel. Another variant of the spice that gets used for culinary purposes includes the green cardamom. When added to any food, cardamom provides a distinct taste, enhancing the flavor and aroma of the savory or sweet dish.
Cardamom gets used in cooking in different countries of the world. It finds application in Scandinavian, Swedish, Finish, and Norwegian baked goods and sweet dishes. These include the Julekake Yule bread, sweet bun kardemummabullar, and pulla sweet bread. It acts as a flavoring agent in teas, masala chai or spiced tea, and coffees. It can also get used in the preparation of the alcoholic beverage gin. Other drinks in which it gets added to comprise claret, herbal teas, and wine.
Cardamom is a component of the versatile and all-inclusive spice blend of India, garam masala. It gets used in the gravy and curry dishes of the country and biryani. It serves as a garnish or condiment in basmati rice and other similar gastronomies.
The spice works impeccably in Nepali and Thai curry pastes. In Korea, it gets added to the jeho-tang, a type of traditional tea. Green cardamom finds application in flavoring various food items and ingredients like oranges, seafood, vegetables, lentils, meat, soups, poultry, and sauces.
Nowadays, cardamom-flavored ice cream, yogurts, and creams are also available.
Benefits of Cardamom
Cardamom comes with a colossal number of health benefits, some of which include the following:
- Blood Pressure: Cardamom has a significant effect in lowering blood pressure. It can get owed to the effective antioxidant properties of the spice. Additionally, it has diuretic effects that stimulate urination, resulting in the expulsion of excess fluids and unnecessary toxic wastes and substances accumulated in the blood.
- Cancer: Particular compounds present in cardamom help prevent cancer by enhancing the activity of the enzymes that fight against the tumor cells. It improves the functionality of the Natural Killer (NK) cells that attack cancerous growth and prevent their multiplication and growth.
- Anti-inflammatory Properties: Cardamom has high amounts of compounds and agents that fight against various kinds and types of inflammations. Thus, it protects the cells from unnecessary and unwarranted damage and prevents any associated chronic ailments.
- Digestion: The spice acts as an effective measure of promoting a healthy digestion process. It relieves the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and discomfort arising from digestive problems and bloating. Research also suggests that cardamom has the possible ability to treat and heal stomach or gastric ulcers.
- Oral Health: Cardamom has antibacterial properties that can kill microorganisms residing inside the mouth and treat infections. Thus, it can deal with most gum and teeth aches and problems like cavities and get rid of bad breath. Overall, it helps maintain proper oral health and hygiene. It is for this very reason that chewing gums flavored with cardamom are so famous.
- Breathing: Cardamom can aid in increasing the flow of air to the lungs on inspiration. It also helps in its proper expulsion during expiration. It gets used in aromatherapy to enhance the ability of the body to take in and use oxygen during physical activities. The spice helps treat asthma by relaxing the airway and allowing a greater intake of oxygen and more regulated breathing.
- Liver: The spice can decrease the elevated levels of cholesterol, liver enzymes, and triglyceride in the blood. The combined effect of these prevents the abrupt increase in the weight of the liver and its enlargement. It reduces the risk of fatty acid-related liver diseases.
- Weight Loss: Cardamom works well in reducing overall body weight and waist circumference. It does so by increasing the fat and carbohydrate breakdown and helping in calorie usage and loss.
Cardamom Harvest Area and Season
Cardamom plants grow well in places that receive about 150-200cm of evenly distributed rainfall annually. It prefers a mean temperature between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius and slightly acidic soils like deep black forest loam soils having a pH in the range of 5.5-6.5. It can also thrive on laterite, rich black, and clay loam soils. Humus, low quantities of phosphorus, and high amounts of potassium enhance the growth of the plant.
The cardamom plants start flowering 2-3 years after their plantation. Their capsules begin to ripen within 120-135 days from the start of the flowering process. It makes the ideal harvest season around October-November.