Cardamom (Chhoti elaichi, elaichie, illaichi )

Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India, they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown. Cardamom is one of the world very ancient spices.

The two main genera of the ginger family are :

  • Elettaria (commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom).
  • Amomum (commonly known as black cardamom, brown cardamom, Kravan, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Siamese cardamom, white cardamom, or red cardamom).

Culinary uses :
Both forms of cardamom are used as flavourings in both food and drink, as cooking spices and as a medicine.

Medicinal uses :
Green cardamom is broadly used in South Asia 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. It also is used to break up kidney stones and gall stones, and was reportedly used as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.

Flavour :
Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. It is warm and eucalyptine with camphorous and lemony undertones

Black cardamom has a distinctly more smoky, though not bitter, aroma with a coolness some consider similar to mint. Black cardamom is blunter, the eucalyptus and camphor suggestions very pronounced.

Other names :
See above.

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