The History of Cardamom Thursday, December 05 2013
The word cardamom comes from the Middle English derivative of the early Greek words kardamon and amōmon, which became kardamōmon, and later the Old French cardamome and Latin cardamomum.
There were originally three varieties of cardamom. Of the two remaining genera of the ginger family, green cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), and also known as true cardamom, is popular from India to Malaysia. The other, Amomum, is mainly used in Asia and Australia, and is also commonly known as black, brown, Java, Bengal, Siamese, white, or red cardamom. Kravan is another word used for cardamom and is a reference to the Prasat Kravan or Cardamom Temple in Cambodia.
The use of cardamom has grown tremendously since the early 1800s and as a medicinal, it may be used to freshen breath, clear infection, and as a digestive aid. The essential oil and oleoresin (a naturally occurring mixture of resin and oil) are used in perfume, and in the kitchen, cardamom is used for a variety of dishes from main courses and soups such as rice and curry, to desserts, drinks, and pastries.
Profile and Usage
Cardamom transcends above most spices because of its diversity. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and its culinary origins range from India to Finland, being used in curries, flatbreads and teas. The seeds of the cardamom fruit are fragrant and spicy with a strong flavor and perfume. The pod can be used whole or ground, and each pod contains a number of seeds. Green cardamom also has a hint of lemon in its taste that some call “grapefruity”. We source our organic whole green pods and organic decorticated green pods from Guatemala, our organic ground cardamon from Nicaragua, and our organic black cardamon pods from India.
In many recipes, green cardamom is the often the anchor used to support a panoply of other tastes. Its flavor is distinguishable yet subtle and blends well with a range of foods including meats, beans, fruits, and chocolate. It’s a key ingredient in curries and garam masala, chai, and a variety of holiday baked goods. Cardamom partners naturally well with ginger and turmeric because it comes from the same family, as well as with allspice, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, paprika, and saffron.
Cardamom’s woody notes and citrusy undertone are similar to ginger but without the sharpness. It has a more floral somewhat spicy scent. It adds depth to bland foods such as rice, and balances the sweetness of desserts and the acidity of coffee. It enhances the character of chocolate and complements the diversity of flavors in soups. But don’t limit your use of cardamom to holidays. This aromatic spice should be a feature in your culinary life.
At Spicely, we choose only the best grade from the highest yielding sustainable varieties of green and black cardamom from certified organic farmers. The pods are picked and allowed to finish in the sun. For our ground variety, we use only the pure seeds so you get the most flavorful product, and we never use fillers or extenders. To see our full line of products with cardamom, including spices, teas and chocolates view here.