Cardamom is one of the most valued spices in the world with an intense aromatic flavor. It is used to bring out the best in both savory and sweet dishes. Due to its culinary magic and healing powers, it is also “Queen of Spices”. The energy of cardamom has the power to cut through the confusion of a busy mind, creating more clarity, whilst helping to lift heavy, depressed feelings. Cardamom encourages us to become more present.
True Cardamom has a green pod. It also has black pod, which is a different species. Cardamom, Ginger, and Turmeric belong to the same botanical family Zingiberaceae. Turmeric imparts deep yellow color to curries, ginger adds the heat and punch as it can be quite sharp, and cardamom gives a sweet, almost limey-floral aroma. Even though they come from the same family – they have a very unique flavor profile. While cardamom and turmeric are used dried, ginger is best used fresh.
Cardamom spice is the small black seeds in tiny green pods, or black in case of black cardamom. You can use the whole pods (remove them before serving the dish) or powder the seeds and add that. You don’t need to discard the skin (pods) and even though they cannot be used as spice because they are extremely fibrous, you can still use them in infusions.
Types of Cardamom
There are two types of cardamom and both are very different:
There are two types of Cardamom; one is pale green and the other black (deep brown). The pale green cardamom has a delicate aroma while the black is strong and smoky. The pale green one is much more expensive than the black and is used equally in desserts and savory dishes, while the black is favored for savories. Some researchers believe the black cardamom is not really a cardamom but a close relative, while others classify cardamom having two varieties: green and black. The black cardamom is 3 times the size of the green one. Though black cardamom is used mostly in savory dishes. The famous Indian masala chai gets its flavor from green cardamom and ginger.
Benefits of Cardamom:
1.) Digestive Aid
Cardamom is well known in Ayurvedic circles as a powerful digestive aid, considered especially beneficial to reduce bloating and intestinal gas. It is related to ginger (known for digestion support) and is also used against acidity, heartburn and constipation. Cardamom can kick-start the secretion of digestive juices to stimulate appetite, which makes digestion and absorption of food more efficient. Its relaxing effect on smooth muscle in the digestive tract also helps to settle the stomach, especially when related to stress.
Cardamom is a great detoxification aid, which is greatly assisted by its potent diuretic properties. Whilst working against infections, it also stimulates the kidneys to remove uric acid, urea, toxins, excess water and other waste products out of the body. This encourages more balanced health.
3.) Act as Freshener
This powerful spice is an excellent alternative for minty-fresh fresh breath. Traditional cultures chew cardamom to freshen their breath. It also has the added benefit of counteracting harmful bacteria in the mouth.
4.) Cardamom is said to relieve cold and flu symptoms. It’s also used for bronchitis and coughs. Its stimulating expectorant action helps to clear phlegm from the nose and sinuses as well as the chest, which makes it a good treatment to counteract colds, coughs, and asthma and chest infections.
5.) The presence of Vitamin C, an essential antioxidant, helps improve blood circulation throughout the body. The seeds have antiseptic and antibacterial properties that protects against infections, further boosting the immunity system.