Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)
Genus: Elettaria
Botanical name: Elettaria cardamomum
Sanskrit: Ela, Truti, Puta, Sookshma, Dravidi, Upakunjika, Kayastha
Hindi: Elaichi
English: Cardamom, Malabar cardamom, Ceylon cardamom
Malayalam: Elam, Elakkai, Elatarri
Elam is a pungent aromatic herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2–4 m in height. The leaves are alternate in two ranks, linear-lanceolate, 40–60 cm long, with a long pointed tip. The flowers are white to lilac or pale violet, produced in a loose spike 30–60 cm long. The fruit is a three-sided yellow-green pod 1–2 cm long, containing several black seeds.
The green seed pods of the plant are dried and the seeds inside the pod are used in Indian and other Asian cuisines, either whole or in a ground form. It is the most widely cultivated species of cardamom; for other types and uses, see cardamom.
Ground cardamom is an ingredient in many Indian curries and is a primary contributor to the flavour of masala chai. In Iran, cardamom is used to flavour coffee and tea. In Turkey, it is used to flavour the black Turkish tea, kakakule in Turkish.
As well as in its native range, it is also grown in Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, and Central America. In India, the states of Sikkim and Kerala are the main producers of cardamom; they rank highest both in cultivated area and in production. It was first imported into Europe around 1300 BC. The Seeds and oil is used for cough, bronchitis, cardiac disorders, anorexia, and dyspepsia, burning sensation, renal and vesical calculi and general debility. Amomum villosum cultivated in China, Laos and Vietnam is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat stomach issues, constipation, dysentery, and other digestion problems.
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