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By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: February 24, 2010, from the March 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Cardamom is one of the fragrant ingredients that helps give chai tea and curry their unique, warm flavors in addition to being a favorite ingredient of a variety of cultures for centuries.
Elletaria cardamomum, cardamom’s scientific name, is a member of the ginger family and originated in India.1 In fact, its cultivation is still limited to few countries, including India, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. Known as the queen of spices, cardamom features a pleasant aroma and slightly pungent taste, with its seeds leaving a warm feeling in the mouth.2
The ingredient is mentioned in Vedic texts and is common in ayurvedic medicines.1
In the kitchen
Cardamom’s flavor is extremely versatile, and it works well in both sweet and savory dishes. Cardamom seeds can be ground into powder, or the whole pods can be used—often with the seeds removed—in a variety of dishes, including desserts, chutneys and soups.2
It is one of the spices used to make garam masala, a basic blend of ground spices common in South Asian cuisines, and it works well in herbal infusions and tonics, chai drinks and coffee.2