Cardamom is in the ginger family and is widely used in Asian and Arabic cultures to flavour meals and drinks.
It is traditionally used in herbal medicine as a warming digestive for people who struggle to break down their food due to low stomach acid, but conversely, it can also reduce stomach acid where it is in excess. It particularly helps us to digest grains like rice and cow dairy products.
Cardamom can also stimulate mental clarity and alertness – instead of reaching for caffeine try chewing the seeds if you are having an afternoon slump. We regularly used to do this in herb class 🙂
The essential oil is often used in perfumes and cardamom even has a reputation for being used in ancient love potions! I absolutely love the fragrance that it brings.
Because it has an effect on alertness, it also makes a great addition to many hot drinks in place of, or in some traditions as well as caffeine. It is famously used in Ethiopia to flavour delicious local coffee. Simply adding crushed cardamom seeds to your ground coffee or into your tea can give an ordinary hot drink a really delicious lift AND it can reduce heartburn caused by coffee and help your digestion too.
Cardamom is widely used in curries, spiced rice dishes, and many sweets like kulfi (Indian-style ice cream), cakes, and biscuits. There are a lot of recipes to try if cardamom is to your taste! Here’s my current favourite recipe for you to try.
CARDAMOM & GINGER CHAI
- 500mls water
- 1/2 tsp dried cardamom pods, crushed
- 1/2 tbsp of minced fresh ginger root
- 1 tbsp of honey
- 2 black tea bags
- 2 cups of milk or 2 more cups of water
- Bring the water, crushed cardamom, and ginger to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and add the honey and tea bags.
- Simmer for 5 minutes then remove the tea bags and add 500mls milk (or water or mylk).
- Once it reaches a boil remove it immediately from the heat.
- Strain and serve.
This chai recipe is a quick and easy way to get some of the amazing chai flavours I grew up with. Best enjoyed in our climate on a miserable grey day, on a couch with big socks and a good book! This recipe is great for anyone who has poor circulation, needs a boost in the afternoon, or tends to get bloated after meals (although you might want to make the milk-free version if that is you). Cow milk can be substituted for plant mylks if necessary. I think almond milk probably works best but take care not to simmer on too high a heat.
Hope you enjoy it!