What Is Big Cardamom?
A member of the ginger family, Big Cardamom is a relative of green cardamom, but they're far from the same plant. It has some of the same flavor notes, especially an uplifting menthol element, but it's also smoky, brash and bold. Although they have similar flavors, they have very different culinary uses. Big Cardamom is the bacon of spices.
Big Cardamom Plant and Cultivation
Big cardamom is a seophyte, i.e a shade-loving plant. It is a crop of humid sub-tropics and a semi-evergreen plant. It is naturally found in the steep hills of eastern sub-Himalayan region which receive a well-distributed rainfall spread around 200 days with a total of about 3,000–3,500mm/year. Big cardamom grows up to 600–2,350m above mean sea level. Big cardamom is commercially cultivated in lower altitudes of cooler areas and higher altitudes of warmer areas.
Big Cardamom Description
Roughly 2.5 to 3 cm in length, Badi Elaichi pods are dark brown to black in color and have a tough, dried, wrinkly skin. They are highly aromatic but not as much as Green Cardamom. Big Cardamom is dried over a smoke fire and therefore has a distinct smokey aroma. The seeds have sweetish, smokey flavor when bitten into.
Uses of Big Cardamom
Historically, Big Cardamom has been used to treat various stomach ailments, common infections and dental problems. It is also chewed as a mouth freshener. The oil extracted from the seeds of the herb is known as one of the most effective essential oils and is widely used in aromatherapy. From promoting your heath to making your hair shiny, there are a number of ways this spice can be used.
10 Health Benefits of Big Cardamom
1 - Gastro-Intestinal Health - Big Cardamom has high positive impact on the gastro-intestinal tract. It can stimulate the gastric and intestinal glands to secret essential juices with the help of its simulative properties.
2 - Cardiovascular Health - Big Cardamoms also influence the cardiac health to a great extent. Controlling cardiac rhythm is one of its most important benefits, which eventually keeps your blood pressure under check. Your heart remains healthy with regular intake of big cardamom.
3 - Respiratory Health - A number of respiratory disorders including asthma, whooping cough, lung congestions, bronchitis, pulmonary tuberculosis etc. can be treated successfully with this little spice.
4 - Oral Health - Several dental disorders, such as teeth infection, gum infection etc. can be treated with Big Cardamom. Furthermore, its strong aroma can help in curing halitosis or bad breath.
5 - Urinary Health - Being an effective diuretic, Big Cardamoms can facilitate urination and keeps your renal system healthy.
6 - Anti-Carcinogenic Properties - There are two antioxidants named 3’-Diindolylmethane (DIM) and Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) in Big Cardamom, which combat breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancer. The anti-carcinogenic properties of the spice also raise the amount of glutathione (an antioxidant) in the body and prevent the generation and growth of cancerous cells.
7 - Detoxification - Studies have revealed that Big Cardamom is a good detoxifier for your body. It is capable of eliminating caffeine from the blood so that you can stay safe from the adverse effects of the alkaloid.
8 - Anesthetic Properties - The oil extracted from Big Cardamom is highly anesthetic and sedative. It can curb acute pain like headache and provide immediate relief. The essential oil prepared from the spice is also used in eliminating stress and fatigue
9 - Antiseptic and Antibacterial Properties - It has been seen that Big Cardamom can destroy microbes of almost 14 different species. Hence, its intake boosts your immunity and provides you protection against bacterial or viral infections.
10 - Anti-oxidative - The anti-oxidative properties of Big Cardamom are helpful in providing nourishment to your scalp and hair strands. As a result, you get strong, thick and shiny tresses.
Producing Countries of Big Cardamom
Guatemala and India accounting for 45 percent and 21 percent of total production, respectively. Guatemala only produces small cardamom, while India produces both types. Guatemala and India have dominated cardamom production. Indonesia was the number three producer accounting for 18 percent of total production. With respect to big cardamom production, Indonesia was the top producer accounting for 45 percent of production, with Nepal (23 percent), India (15 percent) and China (14 percent) accounting for most of the remainder.
Consuming Countries of Big Cardamom
The Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and Europe are the main markets for big cardamom consumption. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest import market for big cardamom. Coffee consumption appears to be a strong driver of demand for big cardamom in Saudi Arabia. India is a major producer, consumer and exporter of this spice crop. Large cardamom is mainly grown in the sub-Himalayan hills of Sikkim and Darjeeling. India produces about 4,200 tons of cured cardamom annually.
Recipe for Beverages with Big Cardamom
Kashmiri Chai (Pink Tea)Ingredients:
A: 2 ½ cups water
B: 4 cups milk
C: A pinch of saffron strands
D: 2 tbspns jasmine tea leaves
E: 1 big cardamom
F: 1 big piece of cinnamon
G: 2 cloves
H: 3 almonds I: 4 green cardamoms crushed J: Some salt K: Sugar to taste L: 1 small very small drop of pink food colour (OPTIONAL)
A: In a saucepan, add all the ingredients given above except milk and for garnish and bring to a boil. B: Boil well for 10 minutes. C: Add milk and boil again. D: Strain this mixture and pour it into 4 cups. E: Place some mixed dried fruits on the saucer and garnish the tea with some crushed pistachios and almonds.
Recipe for Cooking with Big Cardamom
Lamb steak with dates and big cardamom butterIngredients:
A: seeds from 10 big cardamom pods B: 4 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped C: 60g butter D: 1 clove garlic, crushed E: pinch cayenne pepper or dried chilli flakes F: pinch ground ginger sea salt flakes, to taste G: 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil H: 4 lamb leg steaksPreparation Method
A: Toast the cardamom pods in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove, allow to cool then break the pods open and remove the seeds. Grind them as well as you can with a mortar and pestle. B: Add the rest of the ingredients (except the olive oil and steaks) and pound to incorporate well. Taste - you might want more ginger or chilli, but these spices shouldn’t overwhelm the cardamom. C: Heat the oil in a large frying pan (or two smaller ones) and cook the steaks, starting on a high heat immediately to get a good colour, then turn the heat down and continue to cook until they are done to your liking (I really like them rare, about a minute and a half on each side). Season as you cook. D: Serve on hot plates and put chunks of the date butter on top of each steak. Serve immediately, while the butter melts. A salad of baby spinach with lots of coriander is good on the side, as is bulgar wheat or couscous.
Recipe for Dessert with Big Cardamom
Big Cardamom – Orange Flourless Chocolate CakeIngredients:
A: Coconut oil
B: 1 1/4 cups raw whole almonds (with skins)
C: 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
D: 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
E: 4 big cardamom pods
F: 7 green cardamom pods
G: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
H: 1/2 cup cocoa powder I: Juice and zest of 1 large orange (about 1/2 cup juice and 2 teaspoons zest) J: 6 large eggs, separated K: Kosher salt L: Powdered sugar, to dust
A: Heat the oven to 350 F. Rub an even coating of coconut oil over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Place the pan on baking sheet and set aside. B: In a food processor, combine the almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Process until fine. Add the chocolate, then continue to process until a finely milled powder forms. C: Using a mortar and pestle, pound both varieties of cardamom pods until the husks open. Remove and discard the husks, then pound the seeds to a fine powder. Pour into a small bowl. Whisk in the cinnamon, cocoa powder, and the orange juice and zest until smooth. D: In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until significantly thickened. Stir in the cocoa mixture and the almond-chocolate mixture. E: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. F: Working in 3 batches, fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan, then place the sheet pan in the middle of the oven. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the centre comes out clean. Cool to room temperature, then run a paring knife around the perimeter of the cake and release the sides of the pan. If desired, dust the cake with powdered sugar, then cut into thin slices and serve.