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home > food & wine dictionary > cardamom

Food and Wine Dictionary

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 cardamom    [KAR-duh-muhm]

A member of the GINGER family, this aromatic spice is native to India and grows in many other tropical areas including Asia, South America andthe Pacific Islands. Cardamom seeds are encapsulated in small pods about the sizeof a cranberry. Each pod contains 17 to 20 tiny seeds. Cardamom has a pungentaroma and a warm, spicy-sweet flavor. It's widely used in Scandinavian and EastIndian cooking. Cardamom can be purchased either in the pod or ground. Thelatter, though more convenient, is not as full-flavored because cardamom seedsbegin to lose their essential oils as soon as they're ground. The seeds may beremoved from the pods and ground, or the entire pod may be ground. A MORTAR AND PESTLE make quick workof the grinding. If using cardamom to flavor dishes such as stews and curries,lightly crush the shell of the pod and add the pod and seeds to the mixture. Theshell will disintegrate while the dish cooks. Be frugal when using cardamom— a little goes a long way. See also  SPICES; HERB AND SPICE CHART.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

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