Cardamom is used world
over as a flavoring agent. It is the world’s second most expensive
spice, right behind saffron. It is often used as a mouth freshener in
Indian society. It is native to the mountainous rain forests of Kerala
and Sri Lanka where it grows wild. The brownish black seeds are enclosed
inside 1/4”-3/4” long oval shaped pods. The larger variety known as
black cardamom is really brown in color, and the smaller variety is
called green cardamom. Green pods have excellent fragrance compared to
the yellow or white bleached ones.
Cardamom has a pleasant
flavor and aroma and in India it is used in tea, cool drinks,
confectionaries and sweets, as well as vegetarian and non-vegetarian
dishes. Cardamom seeds are either crushed coarsely or powdered fine
before using. These seeds lose their flavour quickly when ground; and it
is ideal to buy only whole pods and crush them just before using.
Cardamom is used internally for indigestion, nausea, vomiting, anorexia,
disease of oral cavity, dry and wet cough and external piles. It can be
used with a laxative to prevent stomach pain, griping, as well as
flatulence. The seeds are also chewed to sweeten the breath and taken to
detoxify caffeine in people taking excessive amounts of coffee. They are
also used as a spice in cooking and as a flavoring in other medicines.