There’s a secret spot in my cabinet where I put all the secret ingredients. It’s not that they are rarities – I didn’t make a once in a lifetime journey “‘round the horn” to the Spice Islands to obtain them – it’s that they impart an indescribable magic upon my and others palette. When turned into a fine powder, they become my pixie dust.
One of those spices is Cardamom. It’s so special, that I say its name out loud like a chant as I work the mortar and pestle. Unlike saffron which imparts a hue, and vanilla which wafts across your tongue and through your nose like a warm blanket, Cardamom is brightly aromatic and dances on the tongue ever so seductively, urging you to savor the moment. “What is that?” is quickly followed by “More please!”
Cardamom is the dried fruit of the perennial herb Elettaria cardamomum, a member of the ginger family, and is intriguingly simple. A little brittle shell housing little seeds. Crack and release. Use whole or ground. A pinch or more pinches.
The two types of Cardamom available are green and black.
Green cardamom is one of the most expensive spices by weight and is a significant source of revenue for Guatemala, which is the world’s largest producer. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardamom)
Warm and aromatic, spicy, citrusy and floral, are words that can be used to describe Green Cardamom’s flavor. Black cardamom is rather smoky and “woodsy.”
Cardamom is used extensively in Indian meat and vegetable dishes and in baked goods of Northern Europe such as Christmas stollen, cakes, cookies, muffins and buns. In the Middle East, it is ground (including the pod) and brewed with coffee. It is often combined with other spices to create a savory spice mix like garam masala.
Some use the whole pods like a bay leaf, cracking them and distributing them into the pot to lend their flavor to braised meat dishes and other simmering dishes. (http://www.thekitchn.com/from-the-spice-cupboard-cardam-108992).
The seeds are also used to make medicine.
Cardamom is used for digestion problems including heartburn, intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal gas, constipation, liver and gall bladder complaints, and loss of appetite. It is also used for common cold, cough, bronchitis, sore mouth and throat, and tendency toward infection. Some people use cardamom as a stimulant and for urinary problems.
Cardamom contains chemicals that appear to treat stomach and intestinal spasms and gas, and increase the movement of food through the intestine. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-614-CARDAMOM.aspx?activeIngredientId=614&activeIngredientName=CARDAMOM)
Berry Cardamom Smoothie
- 2 c. almond milk
- 2 scoops chocolate protein powder
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- 1 T. almond butter
- 1 T. soaked chia seeds
- 1 c. blueberries
- 1/2 c. blackberries
- 1/2 c. mango
1. Toss all ingredients into the blender in the order listed above.
2. Blend and serve immediately.