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January 21, 2008

Cardamom

There is some quiet disagreement amongst the Ayurvedic community as to the qualities of cardamom. Some consider it heating, some consider it cooling. I am now of the opinion that either way, it is so mild that it barely matters.

I do know, however, that it is an excellent little spice. Known as elaichi in India, it is tridoshic, but moderation should be observed for Pita. Originating in South India and Sri Lanka, cardamom is a member of the ginger family, and is a seed pod. It is best bought in whole pods and peeled and ground fresh for each use.

This beautifully aromatic spice is carminative, stimulant, diuretic and digestive. Cardamom is excellent in combination with milk, and aids the bodies digestion of lactose. There is also some talk of it moderating the effects of caffeine, perhaps explaining it's use in Indian tea and coffee.

Whilst commonly associated with sweets, cardamom is divine in many savoury dishes as well, particularly in a pilau or tagine. It's a pretty special little spice but you'll pay for it, saffron is the only spice more expensive.

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