Cardamom (or cardamon) refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown. The word cardamom is derived from the Latin cardamomum, the latinisation of the Greek καρδάμωμον (kardamomon), in turn from κάρδαμον (kardamon), “cress” + ἄμωμον (amomon), a kind of an Indian spice plant. The earliest attested form of the word kardamon is the Mycenaean Greek ka-da-mi-ja, written in Linear B syllabic script. Elettaria (commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom) is distributed from India to Malaysia.
There were initially three natural varieties of green cardamom plants.
Malabar (Nadan/Native) – As the name suggests, this is the native variety of Kerala. These plants have panicles which grow horizontally along the ground.
Mysore – As the name suggests, this is a native variety of Karnataka. These plants have panicles which grow vertically upwards.
Vazhuka – This is a naturally occurring hybrid between Malabar and Mysore varieties, and the panicles grow neither vertically nor horizontally, but in between.
Recently, a few planters isolated high yielding plants and started multiplying them on a large scale. The most popular high yielding variety is “Njallani.” Njallani, also known as “rup-ree-t”, is a unique high-yielding cardamom variety developed by an Indian farmer. The variety has high adaptability to different shade conditions and can also be grown in waterlogged areas.
1.5 cups whole wheat flour / atta
¾ cup sugar (powder coarsely if using regular white sugar)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sliced almonds
¾ tsp green cardamom seed coarsely powdered
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
About 2-3 tablespoons of milk (only if you need it)
2 tablespoons olive oil (for brushing)
- Pre-heat oven to 360F / 180C
- In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt, sliced almonds and cardamom powder well.
Next add soft butter (and milk if needed) to the flour mixture to make dough. Dough should be very soft.
- Divide the dough into about 32 equal parts and make them into balls. Press each ball between your palms lightly; every piece should be about ½” in thickness. Place the dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper about an inch apart.
- Bake the cookies for about 18 minutes or until cookies are lightly gold brown. After they become lightly golden brown remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Let the cookies cool down for two to three minutes before taking them off the cookie sheet.
Cardamom: Digestive aid, brew a tea with 1 teaspoon cardamom and 1 cup boiling water. Drink tea with meals.
Green cardamom is broadly used in South Asia to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It also is used to break up kidney stones and gall stones, and was reportedly used as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.
Amomum is used as a spice and as an ingredient in traditional medicine in systems of the traditional Chinese medicine in China, in Ayurveda in India, Pakistan, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Species in the genus Amomum are also used in traditional Indian medicine. Among other species, varieties and cultivars, Amomum villosum cultivated in China, Laos and Vietnam is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat stomach issues , constipation, dysentery, and other digestion problems. “Tsaoko” cardamom Amomum tsao-ko is cultivated in Yunnan, China and northwest Vietnam, both for medicinal purposes and as a spice.