When you hear the word cardamom, do you think of delicious Indian dishes, spiced fruit pies, and steaming, magically fragrant chai tea? Well, you’re right! This spice is not the best-known, but has a few tricks up its sleeves for satisfying your senses. Read on to find out more!
An Astonishing Spice
The word cardamom describes both the plant and the spice it produces. This perennial, aromatic spice – from the same family as ginger and turmeric – has a thick root known as a rhizome and wide leafy stems. When its fruits are first harvested, they look nothing like the cardamom we are used to using in cooking! They resemble big green capsules and are filled with little black seeds that give off the strong scent we know and love.
India, the Birthplace of Cardamom
Cardamom is originally from India, specifically the region of Kerala and the Malabar Coast, renowned for their magnificent green valleys and tea plantations stretching as far as the eye can see. This spice thrives at altitude and in hot, wet climates, and is now grown in other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. While it seems to have always been used in Indian medicine, it was introduced much later to Europe, where the Greeks and Romans used it in perfumery and cooking. With the discovery of the sea route to India in the 15th century, Europeans were finally able to directly import spices such as pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and of course cardamom!
Hand-picked and dried, cardamom seeds exude a particularly strong, hot, fresh scent with a lemony finish. They are commonly used in Asian cuisine, whether whole or ground, and especially in curries and rice dishes. In Europe, they are used in savory creations, but also desserts, cakes, and the wildly popular gingerbread!
A Key Ingredient in Chai Tea by Kusmi
The Indians are quick to add a few cardamom seeds to their black tea, which lends it a subtle scent of citrus. These seeds are claimed to have numerous benefits, with relaxing, balancing, and energizing effects as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic virtues. Cardamom is one of the leading ingredients in Ayurvedic medicine and renowned chai tea blends. It was therefore natural to use it in the recipe of the very latest Tchai of the Tiger blend by Kusmi Tea. A perfect beverage for this winter season, whether cozying up at home or enjoying a chat with friends!