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Cardamom (Elaichi)

Cardamom, an aromatic spice is a member of the ginger family Elettaria cardamomum. This small pungent seed is used worldwide for flavouring variety of items including coffee, curries and desserts. It is one of the most valued spices of the world and was the principal item of trade in the ancient world. A native to the East, it has its origin in the forests of the western ghats in southern India. There are the two main genera of the ginger family 'Zingiberaceae' that are named as forms of cardamom, namely Elettaria and Amomum. Both varieties take the form of a small seedpod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green in color, while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown.

Culinary Uses:

Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. This sweet spice is used as flavorings in both food and drink. It features in curries, is essential in pulaos (rice dishes) and gives character to pulse dishes. Cardamom is a major ingredient in Indian sweet dishes and drinks. This spice is often used in pickles, especially pickled herring; in punches and mulled wines; and sometimes with meat, poultry and shellfish.

A mild stimulant, cardamom is also chewed habitually (like nuts) where freely available. It is used as flavouring for Arab and Turkish coffee which is served with an elaborate ritual.It is often used in baking in Scandinavia. The French use it in their demi-tasse. Cardamom added to milk neutralizes its mucus forming properties and it detoxifies caffeine in coffee.

Medicinal Properties:

Cardamom is widely used to bring relief from digestive problems in Ayurveda. Though they are not used in western medicines for their medicinal properties, but are used as a flavouring agent for medicinal preparations. In the ancient world, cardamom was used to bring relief from digestive problems.

In India, green cardamom is broadly used to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders.

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