Cardamom

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Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India, they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown. The word cardamom is derived from the Latin "cardamomum",[1] the romanization of the Greek "καρδάμωμον" (kardamomon),[2] in turn from "κάρδαμον" (kardamon), "cress"[3] + "ἄμωμον" (amomon), a kind of an Indian spice plant.[4] The earliest attested form of the word kardamon is the Mycenaean Greek ka-da-mi-ja, written in Linear B syllabic script.[5]

Contents

Types and distribution

The two main genera of the ginger family that are named as forms of cardamom are distributed as follows:

  • Elettaria (commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom) is distributed from India to Malaysia.
  • Amomum (commonly known as black cardamom (沙仁), brown cardamom, Kravan, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Siamese cardamom, white cardamom, or red cardamom) is distributed mainly in Asia and Australia.

Varieties

There were initially three natural varieties of green cardamom plants.

  • Malabar (Nadan/Native) - As the name suggests, this is the native variety of Kerala. These plants have panicles which grow horizontally along the ground.
  • Mysore - As the name suggests, this is a native variety of Karnataka. These plants have panicles which grow vertically upwards.
  • Vazhuka - This is a naturally occurring hybrid between Malabar and Mysore varieties, and the panicles grow neither vertically nor horizontally, but in between.

Recently, a few planters isolated high yielding plants and started multiplying them on a large scale. The most popular high yielding variety is "Njallani." Njallani, also known as "rup-ree-t", is a unique high-yielding cardamom variety developed by an Indian farmer, Sebastian Joseph, at Kattappana in the South Indian state of Kerala.[6][7][8][9]

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