A-Z Spices – June Spice Of The Month Is Elachie/Cardamom
Elachie/Cardamom – as most other spices is native to the Indian Subcontinent and Indonesia – its colourful history dates back thousands of years. One of the first references to elachie – is found in the Ayurvedic literatures of India. Elachie is one of the third most expensive spices by weight and surpassed only by vanilla and saffron – however like other members of the “expensive spice family”, a little goes a long way (10 pods of elachie = about 7ml ground elachie). The very best way to store these precious gems is in their pods – peel and use as needed – once exposed they tend to lose flavour and fragrance.
The two varieties of elachie (black/brown larger pods and very small green pods), were distinguished in the 4th century BCE – by the Greek father of botany – Theophrastus – and he knew that these varieties were originally and solely from India. The green variety has been distributed from India and Malaysia and the large black/brown variety is native to the Eastern Himalayas and mostly cultivated in Eastern Nepal, Sikkim and parts of Darjeeling. In 1914 Oscar Marjus Kloeffer – a German coffee planter introduced elachie cultivation to Guatemala and by the year 2000 Guatemala has become the largest producer and exporter of elachie in the world followed by India
Elachie – one of the most valuable spices in the world – with immense fragrance and flavour is used both in sweet and savoury dishes. Its rich culinary and healing “powers” have earned it the title of “Queen Of Spices” – it is time to embrace and enjoy its versatility. For all those who don’t use it or use enough of it – I will share a number reasons why you should be embracing these precious pods in cooking, baking and for its amazing health and healing properties.
Elachie/Cardamom – Culinary Uses
- One of my all-time favourite use of elachie – with its strong unique taste and intense fragrance is in “Masala Chai” – masala chai is an all-time favourite hot beverage in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan – and it has now caught the taste buds of people all around the globe. “Chai” – literally means “tea” and by referring to it as “chai tea”, it literally and simply means you are saying “tea tea”- which makes no sense – it should be referred to as “masala chai” – that simple.
- A number of Indian, Nepalese and Thai curry pastes use either green elachie or black elachie and this is for its intense fragrance and flavour.
- Chew on the pod or seeds or crush them and add to your daily cup of tea or coffee or one of my favourite is to boil some milk + honey and just one bruised elachie pod
- Every Indian sweet dish “mitai”, has elachie – and this is because there is no joy or point in eating mitais without the rich fragrance and flavour of elachie.
- Elachie and the famous other expensive spice “saffron” is used to flavour basmati rice and pulaos – especially when cooked for special occasions (because of its price–it is usually used on special occasions).
- It is one of the “must have” spices, for a rich, intriguingly flavourful and fragrant “Biryani” and who does not enjoy a good biryani.
- In Sweden it is used in the traditional treat “Yule” bread and the Finnish sweet bread “Pulla” is flavoured with elachie and in some of the Middle Eastern countries it is used to flavour their coffee.
However you choose to use them – but ensure that you do use them.
Elachie/Cardamom – Health Benefits
- As per Ayurvedic Medicine elachie is categorised as an aromatic plant – often used in Ayurvedic medications to maintain high energy levels and vitality and it consumed on a daily basis to ensure a healthy and long lifespan
- Black elachie especially is high in manganese which is known to help control blood sugar levels
- The best of the lot – it aids in “Weight Loss” – it boosts energy metabolism and helps the body burn fat more efficiently
- Various chemical compounds, including volatile oils in cardamom have been shown to act strongly against the growth of viruses, bacteria and fungus with the human body.
- Aids in digestion problems-like gas and constipation – it contains certain chemicals that are known to increase food movement through the intestines and aids in flushing out toxins – keeping gut health in check – “good gut health = good health
- It is packed with Antioxidants that are renowned for mopping up free radicals.
- Relieves flu, cough and cold like symptoms– steep pods in some water along with some honey and use this drink as a natural remedy – it also increases blood circulation to your body and especially to the lungs.
- Because of its floral and sweet aroma – it is a natural breath freshener and the “cineole” contained in elachie is known for its antimicrobial and antibiotic properties that promote oral hygiene and fights of bacteria – that cause mouth ulcers and infections of the mouth and throat.
- Elachie essential oil is great in a diffuser or just inhaled – as it aids sleep issues, restlessness and anxiety – it is known for its warming properties that are soothing for the body
- In Ayurvedic medicine – elachie is used to fight depression – it has miraculous properties that lift the spirt and calm the nerves.
Spiritually – it has the energy and the power to cut through barriers of confusion and a busy mind to bring about much needed clarity and clear the feelings of depression. Elachie encourages us to become more present – “here and now” as well as awakening the inner realms of deeper insight into life.
Go ahead and get yourself some elachie/cardamom and count your blessings and well-being.
All of the above pictures have been sourced from the internet