Cardamom is one of the most sought-after spices in the world, and its price tag reflects that. With such a price, how did it find its way into many of our favourite dishes? Even more, did you know cardamom is often used in traditional medicine? Here we’ll go through the history and uses of this miraculous spice so you’ll be ready to extract every bit of value from it.
Introduction to Cardamom
Cardamom is a versatile spice beloved the world over. It’s unique, warm flavour with hints of citrus and mint is used in both sweet and savoury dishes; from Indian curries and African meat rubs to Scandinavian pastries and Somali teas. However, although cardamom is utilised in so many dishes it comes with a steep price tag – costing up to four times more than other spices like black pepper and cinnamon. Why is that?
Cardamom in History
Cardamom is believed to have originated in the tropical forests of India and first came into mainstream use more than 4000 years ago with the ancient Egyptians. Captivated by its distinctive flavour members of the upper class went to great lengths to import cardamom from Ethiopia to use in their foods and medicines. Upon their deaths, some even had the spice placed in their tombs in hopes it would encourage good health and add flavour to their afterlife.
As time passed and civilisations rose and fell, cardamom continued to enchant, find new uses, and enhance the cuisines it entered. It found use in Ancient Greece to aid indigestion and post-operative recovery, Indians and Arabs further incorporated it into their perfumes and oils and the Vikings brought it back to Europe for inclusion in their wines and pastries.
Today, cardamom is one of the most popular spices in the world and forms an integral part of most cuisines. So much so, areas of India where cardamom grows abundantly – the Cardamom Hills – have been named after the spice that has generated prosperity for the region.
The Cost of Harvesting Cardamom
The cost of harvesting cardamom is one of the primary reasons why it is so expensive. Cardamom is a tropical plant that is grown in areas at higher altitudes with abundant rainfall, moderate temperatures, and humid air. As such, most of the world’s cardamom is produced in the mountain ranges of southern India and Sri Lanka. Harvesting can take 2 – 4 years and is a labour-intensive process as the pods must be picked by hand. Additionally, harvesters only get about 6 kilograms of raw pods from each hectare and these need to be processed to produce just 1 kilogram of green cardamom. A substantial amount of time, effort and expertise is required to produce this prized spice, making the price tag understandable.
Possible Health Benefits of Consuming Cardamom
Cardamom has long been valued for its health benefits, with many cultures around the world using it as a traditional remedy for various ailments. Recent scientific research has further supported these claims having found that cardamom contains compounds that may help reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and even protect against certain types of cancer. It also contains antioxidants that can help protect cells from oxidative damage helping to manage diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Cardamom is also rich in minerals such as manganese, iron, and calcium, which are important for overall health. All in all, it’s an incredibly healthy spice that can provide many potential health benefits when consumed regularly.
What Types of Dishes Can You Prepare with Cardamom?
Cardamom adds a warm, sweet and spicy flavour to dishes.
In India, cardamom is used to flavour rice, curries, and other dishes. In Middle Eastern cuisine it is added to coffee, cakes, and desserts. In Somalia, it is used to flavour rice, meat, tea and coffee. In Scandinavian cuisine, it is a popular ingredient in cakes and pastries.
Cardamom is also commonly used in Thai cuisine for flavouring soups, curries, and desserts. In some countries such as the United Arab Emirates it is even used as a flavouring for shisha pipes.
In conclusion, cardamom is a spice that is relatively expensive when compared to other spices in the market. This is due to the labour-intensive harvesting process and the specific conditions needed for the spice to grow. This spice has been used for centuries and has been recognized for its potential health benefits. It can be used to add flavour to a variety of dishes, including desserts, meat dishes, curries, and more. Although it may be expensive, it certainly makes a great addition to any meal!
At Hooyos House, we are dedicated to keeping traditional recipes and flavours alive. We only use the finest natural ingredients, like cardamom, to craft our delicious and high-quality spice blends. Our goal is to bring you an authentic taste straight from our kitchen to yours – without taking any shortcuts! If you want to taste the beauty of cardamom in Somali cuisine, check out: