There are basically two types of cardamom seeds, green and black. They have very different flavours, so don’t think about substituting one for the other. They have been around for thousands of years, and were allegedly grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. They are native to the subcontinent, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, but are now grown commercially in Guatemala and Tanzania too.
Cardamoms are the third most expensive spice in the world, after saffron and vanilla, but as you don’t need to use many at a time, they don’t really seem to be all that expensive.
They have had many uses, in religions, they were used as incense and Cleopatra is reported to have used their smoke to perfume her palace, particularly when she was expecting a visit from Mark Anthony. It was highly prized in the ancient world as a spice, for its medicinal properties and its smell. It was used to cure mouth infections and digestive problems. Now it is chewed to get rid of bad breathe, and the Arabs and Turks use cardamom seeds to flavour their coffee, either putting freshly ground cardamom into the coffee, or putting a seed pod into the coffee cup or adding several seed pods to the coffee pot.
It is also supposed to break up kidney and gall stones and is used for this in different fields of traditional Indian medicine. It isn’t used in Western medicine for its healing properties yet, but is used to flavour some medicines, to make them taste better.
It apparently came to Europe with Alexander the Great’s returning soldiers. The Greeks used it as a perfume, as did the Romans, and it was valued by the ancient Greeks for its medicinal qualities and as a culinary spice. The ancient Egyptians used it to clean their teeth.
The green cardamom pod is sweeter than the black one, which has a more earthy flavour. You can use green cardamom seeds in apple pies along with cinnamon, but use the seeds from the black cardamoms in savoury dishes, such as curries.
We use it in teas a lot and it’s really good in mint tea. That’s very refreshing and great when the temperature soars.
1 tbsp green tea
2½ cups water
2 green cardamom pods
1 tsp lemon juice
sugar to taste
Bring the water to the boil in a pan, then add the green tea and cardamom pods. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 mins. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and stir well, lifting the tea out of the pan and pouring it back in so that air passes through it. Strain and serve, garnished with slices of lemon if you wish.
This has Taste and is a Treat.