When I think of my childhood in India, I think of cardamom. Cardamom in rice pudding, cardamom in chicken curry, cardamom in the pot of ‘chai’ tea my mom and aunts would drink and gossip around on a rainy afternoon. I remember biting into a cardamom pod in a dish and the avalanche of flavors that would ensue – flowers, pepper, citrus – their intensity and warmth comforting me wholly. I also recall cardamom making an appearance when I was sick. Cardamom concoctions with honey and ginger and basil were touted as a cure for colds, coughs, stomachaches, nausea – the list was endless! Typical of many spices, cardamom straddled both my mom’s kitchen and medicine cabinet.
Like most spices, cardamom’s allure is not due to its flavor enhancing abilities alone. For thousands of years, from the centuries old Indian medical system Ayurveda to Traditional Chinese Medicine to ancient Egypt, cardamom has been revered for its medicinal properties.
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