Background and origin
Green cardamom, like the black variety, is part of the ginger family. The green cardamom plant, elettaria, is also known as true cardamom and is the most popular variety of cardamom. It is used to flavour food and drink, as a spice and in medicine. Native to South East Asia, namely India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia, green cardamom is also grown in Central America.
In India the states of Sikkim and Kerala are the main producers of cardamom, ranking highest in both cultivated area and production. Green cardamom is picked while still immature, the pods dried and the seeds inside used either whole or in a ground form. Popular in Indian, Pakistani and other Asian cuisines, green cardamom is the most widely farmed species of cardamom. By weight it is one of the most expensive spices.
Uses for Green Cardamom
Green cardamom has a strong and unique taste and so little is needed to impart its flavour.
Ground cardamom is an ingredient in many Indian and Pakistani cooking, particularly in sweet dishes like different kinds of halwa, kheer and sheer korma.
It is also a primary contributor to the flavour of masala chai (spiced tea). In the Middle East and Asia, green cardamom pods are ground together with coffee beans to make a powder which is boiled with water to make coffee. It is also used in savoury meals such as korma and biryani due to its scented aroma.
Green cardamom is widely used in South Asia to treat oral infections.
It is said to help prevent and treat sore throats, chest infections and pulmonary tuberculosis.
It is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and is used to treat swollen eyelids and relieve digestive problems.