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Cardamom
True Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genera

The name cardamom is used for herbs within two genera of the ginger family Zingiberaceae, 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.

Contents

Types and distribution

The two main genera of the ginger family that are named as forms of cardamom are distributed as follows:

  • Elettaria (commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom) is distributed from India to Malaysia.
  • Amomum (commonly known as black cardamom (沙仁), brown cardamom, Kravan, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Siamese cardamom, white cardamom, or red cardamom) is distributed mainly in Asia and Australia.

The Sanskrit name for cardamom is "elā" or "truṭī." In Urdu/Hindi/Gujarati and some Southern Indian languages, it is called "ilaayachee" or "elchi." In Nepali, it is "Alaichii". In Marathi, it is "Velchi" or "Veldodaa". In Malayalam, it is "Aelam". In Telugu & Tamil, it is "elakkai" and in Kannada it is "yelakki".

Varieties

There were initially three natural varieties of cardamom plants.

  • Malabar (Nadan/Native) - As the name suggests, this is the native variety of Kerala. These plants have panicles which grow horizontally along the ground.
  • Mysore - As the name suggests, this is a native variety of Karnataka. These plants have panicles which grow vertically upwards.
  • Vazhuka - This is a naturally occurring hybrid between Malabar and Mysore varieties, and the panicles grow neither vertically nor horizontally, but in between.

Recently a few planters isolated high yielding plants and started multiplying them on a large scale.The most popular high yielding variety is "Njallani." Njallani, also known as "rup-ree-t" is a unique high-yielding cardamom variety developed by an Indian farmer Sebastian Joseph at Kattappana in the South Indian state of Kerala.[1][2][3][4]

Uses

Green and black cardamom

Both forms of cardamom are used as flavorings in both food and drink, as cooking spices and as a medicine. Elettaria cardamomum (the usual type of cardamom) is used as a spice, a masticatory, and in medicine; it is also smoked sometimes; it is used as a food plant by the larva of the moth Endoclita hosei.

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Food and drink

Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. Black cardamom has a distinctly more astringent aroma, though not bitter, with a coolness similar to mint, though with a different aroma. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and is often used in baking in Nordic countries, such as in the Finnish sweet bread pulla or in the Scandinavian bread Julekake. Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight but little is needed to impart the flavor. Cardamom is best stored in pod form because once the seeds are exposed or ground they quickly lose their flavor. However, high-quality ground cardamom is often more readily (and cheaply) available and is an acceptable substitute. For recipes requiring whole cardamom pods, a generally accepted equivalent is 10 pods equals 1½ teaspoons of ground cardamom. In the Middle East, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes as well as traditional flavouring in coffee and tea. Cardamom pods are ground together with coffee beans to produce a powdered mixture of the two, which is boiled with water to make coffee. Cardamom is also used in some extent in savoury dishes. In Arabic, cardamom is called Hayl or "Habahan."  In Hebrew, it is called hel (הל). In Persian, it is also called hel. In Gujarati (a derivative of Sanskrit), it is "Ē-lī-chē".In some Middle Eastern countries, coffee and cardamom are often ground in a wooden mortar; a mihbaj, and cooked together in a skillet; a "mehmas" over wood or gas, to produce mixtures that are as much as forty percent cardamom. In South Asia, green cardamom is often used in traditional Indian sweets and in Masala chai (spiced tea). Black cardamom is sometimes used in garam masala for curries. It is occasionally used as a garnish in basmati rice and other dishes. It is often referred to as fat cardamom due its size ('Moti Elaichi'). Individual seeds are sometimes chewed, in much the same way as chewing-gum. It has also been known to be used for gin making. It is also used in curries.

Traditional Medicine

Green cardamom in South Asia 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. 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. Amomum is used as a spice and as an ingredient in traditional medicine in systems of the traditional Chinese medicine in China, in Ayurveda in India, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.Species in the genus Amomum are also used in traditional Indian medicine. Among other species, varieties and cultivars, Amomum villosum cultivated in China, Laos and Vietnam is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat stomach-aches, constipation, dysentery, and other digestion problems. "Tsaoko" cardamom Amomum tsao-ko is cultivated in Yunnan, China and northwest Vietnam, both for medicinal purposes and as a spice. Increased demand since the 1980s, principally from China, for both Amomum villosum and Amomum tsao-ko has provided a key source of income for poor farmers living at higher altitudes in localized areas of China, Laos and Vietnam, people typically isolated from many other markets. Until recently, Nepal has been the world's largest producer of large cardamom. Guatemala has become the world's largest producer and exporter of cardamom, with an export total of US$137.2 million for 2007.

Gallery

References

Notes

  1. ^ Unsung Hero: Tale of an ingenious farmer. Rediff.com, 30 May 2007 [1]
  2. ^ New cardamom variety. Njallani. National Innovation Foundation [2]
  3. ^ Poor rainfall may hit cardamom crop. The Hindu Business Line, 06 July 2007 [3]
  4. ^ Cardamom: Scientists, Njallani developers fight. CommodityOnline, 08 Jan 2008 [4]

Bibliography

  1. Mabberley, D.J. The Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of the Higher Plants. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  2. Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages: Cardamom
  3. Plant Cultures: botany and history of Cardamom
  4. Pham Hoang Ho 1993, Cay Co Vietnam [Plants of Vietnam: in Vietnamese], vols. I, II & III, Montreal.
  5. Buckingham, J.S. & Petheram, R.J. 2004, Cardamom cultivation and forest biodiversity in northwest Vietnam, Agricultural Research and Extension Network, Overseas Development Institute, London UK.
  6. Aubertine, C. 2004, Cardamom (Amomum spp.) in Lao PDR: the hazardous future of an agroforest system product, in 'Forest products, livelihoods and conservation: case studies of non-timber forest products systems vol. 1-Asia, Center for International Forest Research. Jakarta, Indonesia.
  7. Álvarez, L., Gudiel, V. 2008. 'Cardamom prices leads to a re-emergence of the green gold'. [5]

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Simple English

Cardamom
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked) Monocots
(unranked) Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Zingiberaceae

Cardamom is used for two herbs related to ginger. Their seeds are used as a spice. The two species are named Elettaria and Amomum, respectively. The seeds grow in a small seedpod. This seedpod is triangular in cross-section and has the shape of a spindle. There is a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green in color, Amomum pods are larger and dark brown.

Elettaria is commonly known as cardamom, green cardamom or true cardamom. It can be found from India to Malaysia.

Amomum is usually called black cardamom, or white cardamom. It can be found in Asia and Australia.

Contents

Uses

File:Black and green
Green and black cardamom

Both forms of cardamom are used to add flavor to both food and drink, as cooking spices and as a medicine. Elettaria cardamomum (the usual type of cardamom) is used as a spice and in medicine; it is also smoked sometimes; it is used as a food plant by the larva of the moth Endoclita hosei.

Food and drink

Cardamom has a strong taste and an intense smell. Black cardamom has coolness similar to that of mint. It is commonly used in Indian cooking. In Scandinavia it is often used for baking.

Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight but little is needed to give the flavor. Cardamom is best stored in pod form. Once the seeds are exposed or ground, they quickly lose their flavor. High-quality ground cardamom powder can often be a substitute for the pods. That way, ten pods is about the same quantity as one and a half teaspoons of ground cardamom.

In the Middle East, green cardamom powder is used as a spice for sweet dishes. Traditionally, it is also added as a flavoring to coffee and tea there. In Arabic, cardamom is called al-Hayl. In Persian, it is called hel. In Hebrew, it is also called hel (הל). In Gujarati (a derivative of Sanskrit), it is "Ē-lī-chē". In some Middle Eastern countries, coffee and cardamom are often ground in a wooden mortar and cooked together in a mihbaz, an oven using wood or gas, to produce mixtures that are as much as forty percent cardamom.

In South Asia, green cardamom is often used in traditional Indian sweets and in Masala chai (spiced tea).

Black cardamom is sometimes used in garam masala for curries. It is occasionally used as a garnish in basmati rice and other dishes. It is often referred to as fat cardamom due its size ('Moti Elaichi'). Individual seeds are sometimes chewed, in much the same way as chewing-gum. It has also been known to be used to make gin.

In traditional medicine

In South Asia, Green cardamom is often used to treat infections of the teeth and gums. It is also used against troubles of the throat, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It has been used to break up kidney and gall stones, and as an antidote against the poison of certain snake bites.

Amomum is used as a spice and as an ingredient in traditional medicine in systems of the traditional Chinese medicine in China, in Ayurveda in India, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

Among other species, varieties and cultivars, Amomum villosum cultivated in China, Laos and Vietnam is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat stomach-aches, constipation, dysentery, and other digestion problems. "Tsaoko" cardamom Amomum tsao-ko is cultivated in Yunnan, China and northwest Vietnam, both for medicinal purposes and as a spice.

The demand for these herbs has increased since the 1980s. Growing cardamom has become an important source of income for many poor farmers. These people usually live in higher altitudes, sometimes in remote areas, in China, Laos and Vietnam.

Until recently, Nepal has been the world's largest producer of large cardamom. Guatemala has become the world's largest producer and exporter of cardamom, with an export total of US$137.2 million for 2007.

Gallery

pcd:Agamémon


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