“Again I quote because it’s easier than thinking of a different way of putting
“Cardamom is an old and exotic spice. A native of the tropical forests of the East, it is said to have grown in the fabulous Hanging Gardens of Babylon and was, without doubt., brought from the East to Greece and Rome where it was used in perfume. Its reputed aphrodisiac qualities are celebrated in The Arabian Nights and certainly its delightful, heady scent conjures up all kinds of Eastern promise.
Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world, although in northern India it is used extensively in festive rice dishes such as biryanis and pilaus, often in combination with almonds, saffron and other spices, as well as in elegant Mogul dishes such as murg mussallam (marinated whole chicken with almonds and cream), which are fragrantly spiced rather than hot. Garam masala, the spice mixture used all over the Indian sub-continent, also includes cardamom.
Cardamom also features in many Persian and Middle-Eastern dishes, usually along with fruit and nuts. It is the distinctive ingredient in Arab coffee served throughout the Mediterranean and near East. To savour this exotic brew at home, add half a teaspoon of cardamom seeds to a potful of strong, high-roast coffee.”**
Cardamom is also a favorite spice of the Scandinavians and is used primarily in baking. It was obtained by Viking traders in Constantinople about 1000 years ago.
It is used as a flavoring agent in pickles, BBQ sauce and various alcoholic beverages, such as good gin. It is related in flavor to the less widely available Grains of Paradise and may stand in for it in recipes.
* Professor Barry Burnham, St. David’s University College, Lampeter, Wales, in lecture 1985
** The Macmillan Treasury of Spices & Natural Flavorings p.31, Jennifer Mulherin 1988