Indian cuisine is not complete without its authentic rich spices. They add flavours and unique traditional touch to every dish, when used in different ways. Spices add distinctive energy, fragrance and flavouring to our food.
Out of many spices, there is one special spice, Cardamom, generally known as ‘elaichi’ in India, which can add magic to your food despite being spicy or sweet.
Cardamom has been in use for more than 4,000 years and it was first discovered by vikings during their travel journey, which they took back to Scandinavia. This old spice was initially found in the wild plants located in the western ghats of Southern India. It is said that this plant was found in such a huge amount that the place was named as ‘Cardamom hills’.
This spice travelled to different parts of the world for different purposes. Cardamom were used for medical reasons by ancient egyptians. They also eat cardamom to keep their teeth and breath clean and fresh. Cardamom was even used to preserve human remains according to the rituals of ancient egyptians.
Romans and Greek people used cardamom as the main ingredient in perfumes and aromatic oils. Nowadays, the biggest production of cardamom is done in Guatemala. In some places, cardamom is given more value than coffee crops. The word cardamom is derived from the latin word ‘cardamomum’.
This green precious gem was very famous among people due to its medicinal properties and aromatic flavour. Therefore, during the 19th century, British colonists set up the plantations of cardamom at different places.
Seeds from the same plant have contrasting variations .There are largely two types of cardamom used i.e :
It is generally known as hari/choti elaichi in Hindi. There are two types of varieties in green cardamom, malabar cardamom which has a softer fragrance and mysore cardamom with intense green colour.
Green cardamom was food of Sri Lanka and South India but due its amazing flavour, it is now cultivated in Central America, Thailand and Nepal. After saffron and vanilla, cardamom is the third most expensive spice. As the multiple pods of this plant grow at its own speed, it is harvested by hand.
Black cardamom is usually known as kali/badi elaichi in hindi. It is bigger in size in comparison to green cardamom. It is mostly grown in Nepal, China and Vietnam .
Black cardamom has a very different flavour when compared to green cardamom. These are dried over intense heat by placing them over a fire pit.
This luxurious spice also has health benefits. Cardamom helps in boosting gut health and preventing ulcers. It also helps in preventing bad breath and cavities. Cardamom also benefits the liver, reduces anxiety and supports weight loss.
Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, it helps prevent chronic diseases and also helps in overcoming respiratory diseases.
100gm of cardamom contains 11gm of protein, 0mg cholesterol, 68gm carbs and 7g fat. Black cardamom can easily be spotted in Indian cuisine and is largely used in biryani rice, achari pulao, pindi chole, cakes, ginger fig chutney. It is also a main ingredient in garam masala. It is also used in herbal fussions for chai, health tonics and even coffee.
Green cardamom matches best with cakes, halwa,summer drinks and tea. This is the most lovable flavour that you can find in biscuits and chocolates also.