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Cardamom: Health benefits and uses
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Cardamom is an aromatic spice that has been used in cooking and natural therapies for centuries. It is even found in some chewing gum as a breath freshener!
Originally grown in the tropical areas of southern India, it was exported to Europe in the 17th century and is now found worldwide.
It is the third most expensive spice behind saffron and vanilla beans. Luckily, its’ rich, sweet-spicy flavour and medicinal properties means that small quantities can achieve impressive results.
There are two types of cardamom - green (
) and black (
). Both are used in natural therapies and cooking.
Green seed pods
are sweeter tasting than black and are used in savoury and sweet dishes.
are less common and mainly used in savoury dishes including in the garam masala spice mix.
Ground cardamom and seeds pods
Cardamom is related to the ginger family and has some similar characteristics for
It is used in
and has wide ranging health benefits, including:
- it promotes the creation of red blood cells and improves circulation.
- it is used to combat nausea, indigestion, bloating, gas and constipation.
- it has magnesium, potassium and calcium that are good for the heart.
- it helps alleviate muscle spasms, joint pain and chest complaints.
- it aids in the relief of hiccups, stomach cramps, digestion and coughs.
- it helps fight some of the bacteria that cause bad breath, oral disease, mouth ulcers and sore throats.
- it detoxifies by flushing out waste, toxins, excess salt and water through the kidneys.
- it has vitamins, essential oils and phytonutrients.
- it is used to address impotence and erectile dysfunction.
How to use cardamom?
Grind cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle to produce the most aromatic and freshest flavours. Ten pods of ground cardamom will produce 1/2 teaspoon of pre-ground cardamom.
Alternatively, ground cardamom can be purchased at supermarkets.
Infuse in tea, coffee, smoothies or iced drinks.
Use in Indian and Thai curries and Middle Eastern and Scandinavian desserts.
Be inventive and make your own spice mix at home.
Grind pods or use pre-ground cardamom
The following savoury and sweet recipes use cardamom -
Homemade garam masala
Make your own garam masala at home and make mouth watering curries.
2 tablespoons cardamom pods
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Place spices in a frypan on low heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Cool completely and blend in a food processor until fine.
Store in a sealed container.
Lemon, honey and cardamom tea
Homemade Massaman Curry Paste
Beef massaman and turmeric potato pies
Massaman curry paste and beef massaman and turmeric potato pies use cardamom
Middle Eastern cookies
Almond date roll
These Almond Date Rolls and Middle Eastern Cookies taste great with cardamom
The flavour and health benefits of cardamom make this a good spice to have in your repertoire. Enjoy!
Chocolate chai tea recipe
Chai Tapioca Pudding
Quick Tip #117: Whole spice conversions
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