This Sunday’s spice is used regularly in Indian and Ayurvedic cooking but is not quite as popular yet in the west. Cardamom comes in several forms – green, black, pods, seeds and powdered. It has a sharp, somewhat sweet flavor, that is used commonly in desserts and savory dishes not only in India, but in the Middle East as well. It pairs well with ginger (which is related to cardamom), citrus, rose water, coconut, pumpkin and squash, nuts and cinnamon.
Ayurvedically cardamom is a warming spice. It is considered tridoshic – meaning it balances all three Doshas. However, it should be used moderately if Pitta is unbalanced. Cardamom is used as a digestive spice to reduces gas and bloating and the seeds are often chewed to freshen breath. It is also a key ingredient in chai which gives it that distinct flavor.
Cardamom is high in antioxidants which protect cells and stop inflammation as well as a good source of phytochemicals (plant produced compounds believed to protect cells against cancer causing damage). It is high in fiber, manganese, iron, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium and zinc. Cardamom is also a diuretic.
There has been a lot of promising research on cardamom showing it could be used to reduce high blood pressure, heal ulcers, protect against cavity causing bacteria as well as other types of bacteria, protect the liver, lower cholesterol, relieve anxiety and strengthen the immune system.
Try adding cardamom pods to your green or black tea for added flavor and health benefits or add powdered cardamom to your next apple, chocolate, pumpkin or coconut based dessert recipe. Happy cooking this week!