CARDAMOM, The Queen of Spices

  • By K.R.K. Murthy
  • December 1, 2021
  • 1835 views
  • Know about the origins and medical benefits of Cardamom.

Cardamom, the spice with a distinct flavour and aroma has been a part of Indian cooking and healing since centuries. Its botanical name Elettaria Cardamomum is derived from Ellathari (Malayalam) and Kardmomum (Kardomon + amomon) which means an Indian spice from a particular family of plants. Cardamom grows as a perennial herb, with large pale green leaves, and a green yellowing fruit with seeds inside. When dried these seeds inside the pods have a black and brown colour. This dried fruit or pod constitutes the drug or spice. It has a pleasant aroma and characteristic taste, which though sweet, is slightly pungent. Cardamom is a native of the Kerala coast, and is also grown in the neighbouring areas of Mysore and Coorg. Some countries like Sri Lanka and Guatemala also cultivate it in a small way.

 

This spice was known outside India to the Greeks and Romans. It is mentioned by Theophrastus (4th Century BC – Greek). Later it became a prized traded item between India and Europe. Cardamom, sold by weight, is one of the costliest spices like saffron and vanilla.

 

The seeds contain a volatile oil, which is a mixture of cineol, terpineol, terpene, boroneol, limonene, and sabinene. Cardamom gets it aroma and therapeutic properties from this oil. Cardamom has digestive, anti-spasmodic and carminative properties.

 

Ground cardamom seeds mixed with ginger, clove and coriander is an effective remedy against indigestion. It helps to stop belching, hiccups, vomiting and nausea. It induces perspiration and improves blood circulation. Drinking a cup of warm milk with one teaspoon of cardamom and a pinch of saffron steeped in it, before bedtime, improves blood circulation. It also helps to increase the appetite. An infusion of cardamom and cinnamon, when used as a gargle, soothes the m u c u s m e m b r a n e , and thus eases coughs, colds, pharyngitis, relaxes the uvula, and hoarseness of the throat, especially during flu. It is used to relieve flatulence and heartburn. It can prevent cramps. Cardamom is used in treating respiratory inflammations. It has a role in treating depression, genitorurinary infections and reducing fatigue. Cardamom serves to boost the metabolism and helps to deal with obesity.

 

The natural antioxidants found in cardamom oil help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation and cool the body. Powdered Cardamom boiled with water and tea can be used as remedy to treat depression. Cardamom has a nice aroma and is used to contain bad breath (halitosis). Green cardamom is mostly used in medicines while the brown variety is used in cooking.

 

Cardamom finds its place in the kitchen too. In its culinary function it adds flavour and aroma to foods, besides making them more digestible, especially milk based desserts. It is used in Pulav rice, sausages, puddings, pastries, ice cream, sweet drinks (Badam Kheer) and confectionery, in bread and in masala pan. Arabs use it to add flavour to their coffee as a symbol of hospitality. Masala tea is popular with many Indians and cardamom is a major ingredient in it. It is believed to relieve headache caused by indigestion. It is used in flavouring liqueurs and bitters. Cardamom powder is used in some masala (curry) powders. But it should be used in moderation, both for cure and in foods.

 

 

This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 15 November 2021 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share.

 

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