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Common Name: Cardamom

Genus Species: Elettaria cardamomum

Family: Zingiberaceae

Origin: Near East and Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

Cultivation: India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Cambodia, Guatemala, El Salvador

Description: Several varieties of seed plants are known as cardamon, but the best known is an export from India, where it is obtained from a ginger-like plant, Elettaria cardamomum. It is related to black cardamom, and to melegueta (also known as grains of paradise), a peppery cardamon-like seed which grows mainly in West Africa; this was a popular European import in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Cardamom is particularly popular in Arab countries for flavoring coffee, and perhaps half the world’s production is thus used. Cardamom and related spices were used by the Romans, and it remains popular in baked products in Scandinavian and Baltic countries. The seeds are widely used in cooking and in chewing products (similar to chewing gum) in India and Pakistan, and in Persian cuisine, but it is not widely appreciated in North America as a cooking spice or as a flavor in candies or beverages. Its exotic qualities have suggested it could be used as a stimulant and aphrodisiac, and long ago it was used as a perfume and breath freshener.

Information courteousy of UCLA Biomedical Library

Recipes that Use Cardamom: