Botanical Name: Amomum aromaticum & Amonum Cardamomum

Family: Zingiberaceae

Hindi Name: Badi Elaichi

This is known commonly as Bengal cardamom, as it is indigenous to Bengal, Assam, Bangladesh (previously called East Bengal).

The other variety of cardamom is the round variety, which grows in Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Laos and other parts of the East Indian archipelago. These fruits are now found in some parts of America and Europe.

The perennial herbaceous Bengal plant grows to a height of nearly one metre. The fruits, produced on pendant spikes, are narrowly obovoid and three valved with a lot of seeds in each cell. There are many distinct species of this cardamom, ranging in pod size from 2 cm to more than 5 cm.

Round cardamoms occur in small compact bunches, smaller than a cherry, roundish, somewhat ovate. These fruits of both varieties of cardamom are four times the size of small (or lesser) cardamoms. Their quality characteristics too are different from that of small cardamoms. The seeds are used as a spice, and have medicinal value. While the Bengal variety has an essential oil with a strongly camphoraceous and cineole-like odour and taste, the oil from the rounded variety has an odour reminiscent of camphor and borneol.

Its composition is as follows:

  • Volatile oil: 2.8 %
  • Protein: 6.0 %
  • Fibre: 22 %
  • Starch: 43.2 %
  • Ash: 4.01 %

Cardamom has an acceptable taste, flavour and aroma that stimulates the taste buds when used in rice and meat preparations, besides a wide range of sweets and beverages. In India it is a popular ingredient of paan masala and curry powders. The seeds are also used in cakes and pastries.

Cardamom oil is a precious ingredient in food preparations, perfumery, health foods, medicines and beverages. It is used in the form of a tonic for heart and liver; as an astringent for lower movement, an appetiser and as an anti-flatulent medicine. The outside covering is good for teeth, headache and stomatitis. It is beneficial as a diuretic. It is a promoter of bile elimination, and a liver de-congestant. It is used widely in treating gonorrhoea, neuralgia, and snake and scorpion bites.

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