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Cardamom, A Scandinavian Favorite That Couldn't Be Further From Home

Cardamom, a native spice of Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine has throughout history transformed into becoming a long time favourite ingredient in Scandinavian desserts and baked goods. The spice was first brought to Scandinavia by the vikings from their raids of Constantinople and it was love at first taste as Nordics nowadays consume half of the world’s production of cardamom. Being half Norwegian myself, I always associated the complex warm-spicy, lightly floral, sweet, camphoraceous aroma of cardamom with my summer visits to Oslo and indulging in bøller (sweet rolls with cardamom) at the local bakery. Little did I know at that time that cardamom was not quintessentially Scandinavian nor that it was related to turmeric and ginger and that it contained some of the similar health benefits to it’s cousins.
Like turmeric and ginger - cardamom has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce swelling especially in the mucous membranes. It can be used in helping to treat sore throats and gums with it’s slightly cooling effect reminiscent to camphor or eucalyptus. Cardamom is also a powerful antiseptic, a great spice that can be used in the cold season when colds and flus are at their pinnacle.
In ancient Ayurvedic medicine the use of cardamom dates back to the Vedic period, more than 3,000 years ago where the spice was mentioned in Ayurvedic texts, a kind of medicinal handbook and was used to treat ailments of the mucus membrane, improve digestion, nausea, freshen breath and even treat depression. The scientific studies that are being conducted on cardamom are slowly proving some of it’s traditional uses, there have been studies concentrating especially on cardamom’s anti-inflammatory properties in relation to reducing the risk of colon cancer. Watch this space.
Another little known benefit from cardamom comes from the traditional Middle Eastern use of brewing the spice with coffee, detoxifying and neutralising the over-stimulating effects of caffeine. Next time you have coffee try to brew it with cardamom or as one of my Swedish friends does, carries ground cardamom with her to sprinkle in her coffee or over desserts to remind her of home when really she is sprinkling an Ayurvedic spice that couldn’t be farther from home. How will I break this news to my fellow Scandinavians?
Check out the video above for more information on this dynamic spice that’s crossed continents, cultures and learn how to best use it.

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