Tag Archives: indigestion

Choti/Hari Elaichi(Green Cardamom)

Before I started reading about cardamom in general and black cardamom in particular (a spice I use a lot and about which I posted some days back) I did not think much of green cardamom in that I never considered seriously that it might have significant benefits of its own to offer. I thought of it as the lesser variety of cardamom, used primarily for its aromatic flavor, in Indian cuisine-  in desserts such as gajar ka halwa, kheer and in the boiled tea that is drunk across so many parts of the Indian subcontinent. This spice contributes a very pleasant, almost sweet flavor; and my mother therefore even adds it sometimes to the masala that is the base for vegetable dishes such as baigan ka bharta and palak-aloo or palak-paneer, where the vegetable can often lack natural sweetness and in fact can even on occasion be faintly bitter or coarse to taste.

But it turned out that this green variety of cardamom is thought to offer lots of benefits too, and perhaps this is another reason why it is used so widely.

Green Cardamom (botanical name Elettaria Cardamomum) is the common name for the Elettaria genus of the zingiberaceae(ginger) family of plants. The Sanskrit name is Ela (“elaichi” in hindi) , in Arabic it is called al-hayl , and the Persian name is hel. Grown across South and South East Asia,  it is one of the most expensive spices by weight.

Although India is the largest producer of cardamom, only a small share of the Indian production is exported because of the large domestic demand. The main exporting country today of this spice is in fact Guatemala, where cardamom cultivation was introduced less than a century ago and where all the cardamom grown is exported.

It is a common ingredient in baking in north European cuisines, and it is used to flavor coffee and tea in the Middle East. In fact despite its widespread use in South Asia and Iran, 60% of the world production of cardamom is exported to countries in the Middle East and Africa that have people of Arab ethnicity, where apart from its popular use for flavoring coffee it is also added to spice mixtures such as baharat, ras el hanout and berbere.

South East Asian cuisine also uses varieties of cardamom – Siam cardamom and round or Java cardamom – which are related to but distinct from that used in India.

In India’s Ayurvedic system of medicine, this spice is believed to be very effective in the treatment of a range of conditions- most notably congestion, throat ailments , bronchitis, laryngitis, and digestive disorders such as indigestion,heartburn and flatulence, as well as infections of the teeth and gums and skin and urinary complaints.

Apparently cardamom derives its properties from the presence of a powerful phytochemical called cineole in its essential oil.

Laboratory studies on animals have shown extracts from this essential oil to have anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects.

Green cardamom, like the black variety, is best stored as pods because the seeds , once exposed to air, lose their flavor quite quickly.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WP9-45N43B9-12&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=d628e350e3b9f73d7cd6c2a4db799d35

http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Elet_car.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardamom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elettaria

http://www.bolokids.com/2007/0354.htm

http://www.publix.com/wellness/greenwise/feature/Article.do?id=571&childId=723

http://www.draligus.net/4530-nepalese-cardamom-amomum-aromaticum.html

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Dhaniya (Coriander)

Whether it is the fresh leaves, the aroma of the seeds as I roast them before grinding a fresh lot of the powder,or the older quantity sitting in a bottle on the spice shelf in our kitchen; Indira loves to sniff at coriander in any of it’s forms. It is quite an amusing sight to see her grab the bottle of coriander powder from my hand, after I have finished adding some to a curry or subzi that is cooking right then, and take a long, appreciative sniff at the contents. And she absolutely loves the trip to the vegetable shop from where I buy fresh coriander and mint, since she knows the fragrance will fill the air in the car on the way back !

So I figured this is the spice I should begin this section with.

here is what I have found out (sources below):

Apparently the plant is of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern origin; the Romans used it for treating digestive problems;it was even mentioned in the old testament.

The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves, cilantro ,dhania , Chinese parsley or Mexican parsley.

There is a host of fascinating stuff here about the history of the use of this spice; I am only listing some of the medicinal benefits mentioned.

Thanks to its to its exceptional phytonutrient content, it seems that coriander can help control blood sugar, cholesterol and free radical production; it is a very good source of dietary fiber, minerals such as iron and magnesium, and a very powerful antibacterial compound. It is  effective against colic and indigestion in both adults and children, and apparently coriander oil can help ease joint pain due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=70

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120126251/abstract

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/112437530/abstract

http://usa.loccitane.com/FO/Services/GlossaryDetail.aspx?id=33

http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/coriander.html

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