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Cardamom is an aromatic spice native to the Western Ghats of India and widely grown in Sri Lanka, Indo China, Guatemala, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world after saffron and vanilla. Cardamom is referred as“Queen of Spices” and is derived from plants – Amomum and Elettaria belonging to the family Zingiberaceae (ginger).
Alternate Indian Names – Cardamom is variously known as Ilaichi (Hindi), Elakki ( Kannada), Yelakulu (Telugu), Elakkai (Tamil) and Elakkaya (Malayalam).
Cardamom Grades – Green Extra Bold (8 MM), Green Bold (6MM), Green Superior (5 MM) and Green Shipment (4 MM). All these grades are used for exporting and in domestic market we get non-graded ones that is lesser quality than all these.
Sensory Quality and Flavor –The green cardamom possesses warming eucalyptus with camphorous and citrus undertones, whereas the black cardamom tastes bland and smoky.
Types– Green Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), black/brown cardamom and Madagascar cardamom. Indian cardamom has two distinguished varieties- Malabar cardamom and Mysore cardamom. Mysore cardamom is more aromatic variety of the two because it contains high levels of limonene and cineol.
Culinary Uses – Cardamom is a common flavouring agent in Indian, Scandinavian, South East Asian and various European cuisines. The cardamom seeds can be used bruised, whole or ground. Cardamom is used in Indian spice blends such as curry, chai and garam masala. Ground cardamom is added in herbal infusions, Turkish coffee, chai lattes, and festive drinks. Cardamom is also used in baked goodies and Indian puddings.
Purchase and Storage – Cardamom can be purchased as whole pods, whole seeds without pods, ground or crushed seeds. Whole cardamom pods retain more flavor than seeds removed from pods. For fresh flavour, remove the seeds from pod before the use and crush with a mortar and pestle. Store cardamom pods in an airtight container to avoid sunlight, heat and moisture.
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