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Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)

Cardamom, a member of the ginger family, is native to the indian subcontinent and a significant spice in that region's ancient cuisine. Medicinally, it is also highly respected; the dried seedpods and seeds have been used in ayurveda for thousands of years and were prized by the Greeks and Romans. Cardamom actually can serve both medicinally and culinary functions at the same time. It not only adds its aromatic flavor to foods but also makes them more digestible. Not surprisingly, it is most valuable for treating gastrointestinal disturbances, such as gas, cramps, lack of appetite and indigestion. Cardamom serves to boost the metabolism, which can help in dealing with obesity; it may also boost the spirits. In addition, cardamom helps to combat respiratory inflammations and urinary-tract and yeast infections.

Help for gas pain and heartburn

Gas can press against the diaphragm and trigger heartburn, but cardamom tea can relieve the discomfort; boil 1 tbsp. of cardamom with 2 cups of water for 5 min. add 1 small piece of cinnamon stick, 2 cloves, 2 thin clices of peeled gingerroot and a strip of lemon rind. Bring briefly to a boil, cover and simmer for atleast 1 hr. strain. You can drink cardamom tea hot or cold.

Therapeutic Effect : 
Cardamom is a valued remedy for digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting, gas, indigestion and cramps. The essential oil also stimulates the appetite by encouraging the secretion of gastric juice. Because of the high level of cineole in the oil, cardamom also eases coughs, hoarseness and other irritating symptoms from inflammation due to colds or flu. It may also have some antidepressant effects, which may drive away fatigue.

The main ingredient is an essential oil extracted from the seeds by steam distillation. The oil contains cineole, limonene, borneol and terpinine and is especially healthful. For example, one or two drops diluted in a cup of warm milk strengthens the stomach lining and increases gastric secretions. Its seeds contain fatty oil, starch, protein, gum and sugar.

Cardamom Snails

2 tsp. ground cardamom
5 cups flour
6 tbsp. sugar, divided
1 oz. fresh yeast
9 tbsp. lukewarm milk
5 tbsp. soft butter
1 egg
1 beaten egg yolk to glaze

For the filling
4 ¼ tbsp. softened butter
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cardamom

  1. Mix the cardamom, flour and 3 tbsp. of the sugar. Blend the yeast and milk; then add to the flour mix. Add the butter and egg. Knead the dough. Let it rise 30 min.
  2. Mix the ingredients for the filling
  3. Knead the dough; roll it into a 12x20 in sheet. Brush with the filling. Roll up the dough and cut it into 14 slices. Cover; let it rise 30 min, on a greased cookie sheet.
  4. Brush the rolls with the egg yolk, and sprinkle with remaining 3 tbsp. of sugar. Bake for about 15 min at 40 deg F.

Tonic for spring Fever
To combat springtime lethargy, pour 2 cups of water over ½ tbsp. each of freshly ground cardamom, coriander, cayenne pepper and anise. Steep for 5 min.; strain and pour into a bottle. Take 1-2 tbsp. 3-5 times a day.

Kitchen Tips

  • Cardamom adds flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. It is often used to flavor curry dishes, baked goods and beverages. For example, all gingerbreads contain it, as does mulled wine and Middle Eastern coffees.
  • Look for green cardamom pods. White cardamom has been bleached with sulfur dioxide, and the brown pods are not genuine cardamom; they have far less aroma and taste.
  • The small dark seeds of the cardamom pod are far more aromatic than the ground powder. Asian food stores and some well stocked grocery stores carry the pods. Grind or crush the seeds as you need them.
  • To draw out the flavor of cardamom seeds, dry roast them before using. Simply heat the seeds in a very hot skillet, stirring, for about 2 min. or until the aroma arises.
  • Indian cardamom coffee after meals stimulates digestion and helps you feel less full. Boil 2 cups each of milk and water. Add 5 tsp. of instant coffee, 2 green cardamom pods and 1 tbsp. of sugar. Simmer gently for 3 min.; and then strain.