Category: Spice Family: Zingiberaceae Names: Cardamom, real cardamom, green cardamom English Description: Camphoric, aromatic, resinous Extraction method: steam distillation Cardamom is one of the oldest spices in the world and also the third most expensive after saffron and vanilla. It is native to the east native to the forests of the Western Ghats in southern India, where it grows wild. Today it also grows in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Indochina, Tanzania, El Salvador, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Cardamom was well known in ancient times and the Egyptians used it in perfumes and incense and chewed it to whiten their teeth, while the Romans used it for their stomachs when they overdo it. The Vikings discovered cardamom about a thousand years ago, in Constantinople, and introduced it to Scandinavia, where it remains popular to this day. There are two main types of cardamom, mentioned below, but there are actually four related species distributed from Africa to Australia. Small green cardamom Eletteria cardamomum and Large red / black cardamom Amomum subulatum or Amomum tsao-ko. The most common type is green cardamom, it is native to Southeast Asia, from India south to Sri Lanka and east to Malaysia and west to Indonesia, where it grows in tropical rain forests. Black cardamom is distributed mainly in Asia and Australia with Amomum subulatum also known as Nepal cardamom bearing smaller pods which are mainly used in Indian cuisines while Amomum tsao-ko has pods larger which are used in particular in the cuisine of Sichuan province of China. Both plants belong to the Zingiberaceae family. Cardamom has a strong and unique taste, with an intensely aromatic and resinous scent. From my description green cardamom is minty and aromatic and I just love to chew it and it's something natural and safe that kills mouth odors from some strong foods like garlic and onions. While black cardamom has a smoky, earthy flavor and has a strong taste and aroma, it cannot be chewed. Cardamom keeps best in pod form because once the seeds are exposed or crushed, they quickly lose their flavor. In the 11th century in India, cardamom was included in the ingredient list of panchasugandha-thambula or five-scent betel chew in the Manasollasa or Book of Splendor. It was also featured in recipes from the court of the Sultan of Mandu dating back to around 1500. These recipes include sorbets and rice dishes flavored with cardamom. Real cardamom, also known as green cardamom, has become an item of trade with South Asia over the past thousand years when Arab traders have made it widespread. Exports from the Malabar Coast, near where cardamoms grew in the wild, were described by the Portuguese traveler Barbosa in 1524. During Garcia da Orta's time in 1563, the international cardamom trade was well developed. In the 19th century, the British colonies established cardamom as a secondary crop on coffee plantations in other parts of India. Green cardamom is one of the more expensive spices by weight, and it takes little to add flavor. In the Middle East, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes as well as a traditional flavor in coffee and tea. In the Nordic countries, as in Finnish sweet bread pulla or in Scandinavian Julekake bread. In South Asia, green cardamom is often used in traditional Indian sweets and in masala chai spicy tea. And in my own experience, a cup of spicy cardamom tea adds a lively flavor to your senses when you're tired or feeling blue. Black cardamom is sometimes used in garam masala for curries. It is sometimes used as a garnish in basmati rice and other dishes. It is often referred to as fatty cardamom because of its size. A bite of cherry from my country Pakistan, we use it in almost all sweet and savory dishes for flavoring. A dessert called kheer that is incomplete without the flavor of cardamom is a must. It is a well-known and ubiquitous dessert in India and Pakistan. Speaking of its traditional remedy, it is traditionally used to treat skin conditions and aid digestion. Cardamom in different languages: French: cardamom German: Kardamom Italian: cardamom, cardamom Spanish: cardamom Burmese: phalazee Chinese: ts'ao-k'ou Hindi and Urdu: chhoti elachi, illaichi Indonesian: kapulaga Malay: buah pelaga Sinhala: enasal Tamil: elam Thai: grawahn, kravan Extraction method: Cardamom essential oil is extracted from Elettaria cardomomum by steam distillation of the seeds of fruits picked just before their maturity. Valerius Cordus first distilled the essential oil in 1544 after the Portuguese discovered the Orient. Cardamom oil has a sweet, spicy, almost balsamic scent, a light to pale yellow color, and a slightly watery viscosity.