The world may call cardamom the ‘queen of spices,’ but for me, it will remain the enlivener of curries. Every traditional Indian recipe has at least a trace of cardamom in it. Oh, by the way, I am talking about green cardamom here. The bolder and brasher black version has its own little uses, but that’s a story for another day.
Elaichi: Peeling the Pods
Part of the ginger family, cardamom is the dried fruit of the plant. The pods are harvested right before they are ripe to retain their vibrant, green colour. Elaichi has an intense flavour and unique taste sensation, especially if you eat it raw.
The dried seeds within the capsules are pungent and highly aromatic, making them just perfect to flavour tea. And also, the reason why Egyptians chewed it to sweeten the breath.
Why Use Cardamom: The Medicinal Benefits of the Spice
When your eyes are bigger than your stomach after a heavy meal, it’s cardamom who saves the day. Indian have been using the medicinal spice as a digestive aid since 4th Century BC! That’s a long time. No wonder we still serve elaichi after meals.
How does cardamom help get rid of the brick in the stomach?
Believe it or not, it’s the aroma. Aromatic spices, like elaichi, help move food down the digestive system. Elaichi, in particular, relaxes the opening between the stomach and the small intestine and gently nudges the body to digest faster. And because it accelerates digestion, cardamom also relieves nausea.
In Ayurveda, cardamom is known as the most potent mucus destroyer. Not a pretty label to hold, but useful nonetheless. A pinch of the powder mixed with honey does wonders for bronchial congestion.
Cardamom: A Quick Culinary How-To
I am unabashedly in love with this spice. A dash of the powder adds a tempting flavour to almost anything. Have you ever tried coffee the Arabic way? No? The ground coffee is mixed with elaichi before brewing creating a heavenly spiciness.
Need some more ideas that have all the health benefits of cardamom?
Attempt this Plum & Granola Popsicle with a sweet-tart flavour intermingled with the heady floral scent of cardamom for something cool.
When you’re dreaming of a kitchen filled with the distinct fragrance of the spice, try the Plum & Cardamom Streusel Muffins. They are low in sugar and made with healthy, whole-grain flour.
And if you’re lactose intolerant, like me, then give this Mango Cardamom Shake a whirl. It’s made with almond milk, a discovery I thank God for every day!
Light and crumbly, these melt- in- your -mouth, eggless Indian shortbread cookies with cardamom, aka Nankhatai are truly a delectable treat!
Coconut Black Rice Pudding, Makhane Ki Kheer and Jaggery Rice are some more powerhouses of nutrition you should give a try if your palate is craving this lovely fragrant spice.
For all savoury dishes, stick to the pods. For all sweet recipes, use only the powder form or crushed seeds with a light hand, else the spice will overwhelm all other flavours.
Tasha’s Inside Tip
The essential oils in this spice (read: the fresh taste and the health benefits) are released when it is bruised. So, ground the spice before you use it. Plus, it allows the flavour to blend more evenly with other ingredients. But do remember that the aroma and taste evaporate swiftly after cardamom is ground. So, always store it as uncrushed seed.
I hope you are enjoying my #spiceseries blogs.
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