Cardamom: Properties and Benefits

Cardamom, or “grain of paradise”, is the fruit from a plant with the same name.  This plant, of which only the seeds are consumed, is native to India and Sri-Lanka.  It contains various small seeds that have been consumed since before Christian times, and they are used in several different ways, both for health and cooking.  These uses convert it into one of the most highly valued spices in the world, even though its price is reduced now, as a consequence of overproduction in the world.

Cardamom: Properties and BenefitsProperties and uses of Cardamom:

  • It has a slightly spicy and very stimulating smell and flavor.
  • Contains 4% of unstable oils, like terpineol, cineole, sabinene, limonene, and pinene.
  • This seed contains protein, water, essential oil, carbohydrates, and a lot of fiber.
  • Rich in starch and fatty acids.
  • Has antispasmodic and stimulating properties. 
  • It is digestive, alleviates cramps, stimulates the appetite, fights heartburn, burning, and provokes greater saliva production.
  • It is carminative (expels gas)
  • Can be used to alleviate the gluten intolerance that some people suffer from, with grains like oats, wheat, barley, etc. (Celiacs)
  • Used to ease hemorrhoids.
  • Useful for treating urinary problems.
  • Fights bad breath (halitosis).
  • Possess aphrodisiac properties.
  • Helps regulate the metabolism.
  • Used to cure arthritis.
  • Good for diabetics.
  • Useful for weight loss
  • Helps in cases of diarrhea, and neutralizes the effects of caffeine.
  • Due to its essential oils content, it is used to make different dishes in cooking, like rice, soups, salads, drinks, liquors, baking, etc.
  • Used in powdered form, tincture, or in pharmaceutical preparations.
  • Fights flatulence.

Cardamom’s uses in the kitchen

Very useful for preparing rice, sauces, soups, beverages, curries, dressings, etc., as well as for add fragrance to liquor, etc.  Cardamom is frequently used in cuisine, especially in India.  It is added to rice to give it a slightly spicy taste; the Arabs, on the other hand, used it in coffee, turning it into a heart tonic  and anti-flatulent.

How is Cardamom eaten?

It can be prepared as a cardamom herbal tea as an alternative treatment.  You can do this by boiling one cup of water, and then adding one teaspoon of recently crushed seeds; let set for 15 minutes, and strain.

About Cardamom

This is a perennial herb that grows up to 4 meters in height.  It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and was first used in the year 700, in southern India.  It generally grows in tropical forests in India, and was imported to Europe around 1200.

Bellow, a delicious recipe with cardamom:

Carrot and Cardamom sponge cake (carrot bread)

Ingredients:

  • 350 grams whole wheat flour
  • 1 tiny bag baking powder
  • 300 grams brown sugar (You can reduce this amount a bit if the carrots are very sweet)
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 Tbsp. crushed cardamom
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 250 grams grated carrots
  • 1 lemon, lemon zest and juice
  • 250 grams crushes almonds
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 200 grams soft butter

Directions:

1. For the decoration: use 10-12 Marzipan carrots and apricot jam or jelly.

2. Pour the whole wheat flour through a sieve, and place in a bowel.  Add salt.  Add and mix all dry ingredients well, and then add the beaten eggs and soft butter.  Mix everything with a wooden spatula, or even better, with an electric blender.  Prepare a rectangular sponge cake mold (the ones that come in different shapes).  This sponge cake is meant for a pan that is 30 cm. long.

3. Line the inside of the pan with wax paper, and when the dough is uniform, dump into pan.  Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C, place the pan on the low rack for 60-65 minutes.  After 50 minutes, grate carrots and place them on top of the dough.  Add the final touches to the upper part of the cake, by adding the apricot jelly.

4. Because the carrots will add a lot of moisture to the cake, it is best to wait 24 to 48 hours before cutting it.  This will last for a week if wrapped in aluminum foil.  You can serve it with grain molasses, honey, marmalade, caramel, etc.

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