Spice Spotlight: Cardamom
Cardamom, often called the ‘queen of spices’, is a Southern Indian spice that comes from the seeds of a number of plants in the Ginger family. It’s considered one of the oldest spices in the world, as we’ve got records of it being used in Egypt as early as 4000 years ago for medical purposes, and later on Greeks and Romans used it for its strong flavour and pungent aroma.
What does Cardamom taste like?
Many describe its flavour as a blend of ginger and cinnamon, with hints of mint and lemon. Its fragrance, sweet smelling and resinous, is quite inimitable, and even a little amount yields a surprising amount of flavour. When using Cardamom, it’s important to remember that a little really goes a long way: It will quickly overpower a dish if used too generously.
How to use Cardamom?
In Indian cooking, it’s used in a variety of dishes, from stews to masala chai to many different curries. It’s complex flavour is a great addition to both sweet and savoury recipes and it really shines when added to meats, fruits, legumes, and grains.
You can buy Cardamom as pods, seeds or powder. Use pods for the boldest flavour, lightly toasting them over medium heat to really free their delicious aroma. If your recipe calls for ground seeds, make sure to add the freshly ground powder to your recipe quickly after the grinding to preserve the seeds’ essential oils. Last but not least, powdered Cardamom is less flavourful, which means you can add it to your meal more generously, without risking to overpower the other flavours.
How is cardamom healthy?
Cardamom has also had many medical uses throughout history thanks to its incredibly healthy properties. In ancient times, it was known as one of the best remedies for bad breath and it was often used as modern times chewing gum. It’s a natural antioxidant and diuretic, great for people suffering from high blood pressure. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, and it helps alleviate digestive problems. Finally, it can help lower blood sugar and it helps relax the airways to facilitate breathing and increase oxygen intake.
Cardamom is a truly unique spice, with an irreplaceable flavour and a range of great health benefits. It’s one of the most expensive spices by weight, but considering how much flavour you get from it, you definitely get your money’s worth for it.