Green Cardamom - Elettaria cardamomum
|Green Cardamom Pods & Seeds|
Green cardamom pods come from a perennial bush of the ginger family that can grow to up to 12 feet tall. It is native to India, and grows wild in rain forests of southern India and Sri Lanka, at relatively low altitudes. The plant will only flower and fruit in tropical climates. Guatemala is now the largest exporter of cardamom, even more so than India. The plant needs wet soil and heat to grow and bear the little fruits, harvested just before fully ripe and dried, either in the sun, similarly to coffee, or in special drying rooms. The very best dried cardamom pods are pale greenish in color. Each half-inch paper-like pod holds approximately 12 to 20 dark brown or black highly aromatic seeds. It is best to buy either whole pods or whole seeds that have been removed from the pod. The pods themselves have little flavor and commercially it is too easy to grind the whole pod together, thus lowering the price and the quality of the ground spice.
Grinding the seeds is simple in a mortar and pestle or a small spice grinder, and one is assured of the quality of the product. Many dishes in India call for whole, unbroken or only slightly crushed pods to be used. Anyone who has eaten Indian cuisine, or cooked Indian dishes, knows well how often cardamom is an ingredient. It is almost always used in a Garam Masala mixture, often seen as an ingredient in Northern Indian dishes such as rice biryani, creamed spinach and dhal. In addition to its use in savory dishes, cardamom is used extensively in breads and sweets.
|Black Cardamom, top. Green Cardamom, bottom|
Black Cardamom - Amomum subulatum
|Black Cardamom pods and seeds|
My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.