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I. Cardamom as a Spice

I. Cardamom as a Spice

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THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



389



incomplete without the sprinkling of cardamom capsules. In the Islamic

Republic of Iran, cardamom is used in making confectionery, bakery, and

meat preparations to add flavor and aroma to the products. Invariably

cardamom is found in the spice chest of Indian kitchen. The Indian housewife uses this unique spice in a variety of vegetable and meat dishes including

flavoring of sweets and also rice porridge (known locally as Payasams in

southern India and Kheer in northern India).

In European countries and North America, cardamom is used mainly in

ground form by food industries as an ingredient in curry powder, some sausage

products, fruit cups, green pea soups, curry‐flavored soups, spice dishes, rice

Danish pastry, buns, breads, rolls, cookies, desserts, coVee cakes, orange salad,

jellies, baked apple coVee, honey pickles, pickled herring, canned fish, and to a

small extent in flavoring tobacco and cigarettes. Cardamom cola, instant

Gahwa, carbonated Gahwa, biscuits, Spanish pastries, toVees, chewing gum,

and so on, are other products where cardamom is an ingredient. Various

breakfast foods using encapsulated cardamom oil are new products developed

in the recent past using cardamom. It is also used in spiced wine and to flavor

custard (by steeping crushed cardamom seeds in hot milk). In general, the

Arabs use it in coVee. The Americans use it in baked foods. The Russians

add it to pastries, cakes, and confectionery to impart the unique flavor and

aroma, while the Japanese use it in curry, ham, and sausage; the Germans use it

in curry powders, sausages, and processed meat. The list goes on where the spice

is used in countless food items.

In Scandinavia cardamom is widely used in bakery products. The ground

cardamom is mixed with flour to add flavor to most baked products and it

adds an exotic taste to apple pie (Rosengarten, 1973). In Sweden, cardamom

use is most popular with baked foods, where the per capita consumption of

such foods is about 60% greater than that in the United States. Ground

cardamom is also used to flavor hamburgers and meat loaves.

Indian cardamom is low in fat and high in protein, iron, vitamin B and C

(Pruthy, 1993). Table LIII gives the nutritional value of cardamom. In India,

it is used as a masticatory and also in flavoring culinary preparations. In

several cities of India, especially in the North Indian belt, cardamom is used

in the preparation of all kinds of puddings, which are inevitable items in

both social functions like marriages and also in religious festivities. It is also

used to lace tea, with or without lime, which is a popular and refreshing

drink in North India (Philip, 1989). And on many occasions, cardamom

seeds are oVered to be chew after sumptuous marriage feasts. Also, cardamom flavored hot water is provided in many North Indian hotels. In India,

of late, a variety of cardamom‐flavored products are being marketed, raging

from biscuits to cheese, milk‐based drinks, and so on. It is also used to make

garlands for special occasions to greet dignitaries both in India and in the

Arab world.



390



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR

Table LIII

Nutritional Composition of Cardamom per 100 g



Ingredients

Water (g)

Food energy (Kcal)

Protein (g)

Fat (g)

Carbohydrates (g)

Ash (g)

Calcium (g)

Phosphorus (mg)

Sodium (mg)

Potassium (mg)

Iron (mg)

Thiamine (mg)

Riboflavin (mg)

Niacin (mg)

Ascorbic acid (mg)

Vitamin A activity (RE)



USDA Handbook 8–21a



ASDTAb



8.28

311.00

10.76

6.70

68.47

5.78

0.383

178.00

18.00

1119.00

13.97

0.198

0.182

1.102



Traces



8.0

360.0

10.0

2.9

74.2

4.7

0.3

210.0

10.0

1200.0

11.6

0.18

0.23

2.33

ND

ND



a



Composition of Foods: Spices and Herbs. USDA Agricultural Handbook, 8–21, January 1977.

The nutritional composition of spices, ASTA Research Committee, February, 1977.

Source: Stobart (1982).

ND, not detected.

b



1.



The Pattern of Suitability of Cardamom



The suitability pattern of cardamom is pictorially depicted in Fig. 7.

Cardamom is most suitable in Indian cooking and does not show above

average suitability for any other national cuisines. In fact, the use of cardamom is totally lacking in the cuisines of most European and American

countries. Hirasa and Takemasa (1998) indicated that cardamom is more

useful in meat, milk, and fruit preparations. It is more useful for simmered,

baked, fried, deep fried, and pickled food and less suitable for steamed food.

The spice is used in the preparation of food mainly for the following

purposes

1.

2.

3.

4.



Direct flavoring of the dish

To mask undesirable flavor and to deodorize

To add color to the food

To add pungency.



Since a single spice cannot contribute all the qualities mentioned earlier,

often a combination of spices is used in the preparation of food. Cardamom

is used mainly for its direct eVect of imparting flavor.



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



391



Figure 7 Suitability pattern for cardamom (Source: Hirasa and Takemasa, 1998).



It is used for the same purpose in blended spice mixtures, such as, curry

powder, Garam masala (a strong mixture of several spices including cardamom to impart aroma and pungency to Indian cuisine), mixed pickles, and so

on. Masking undesirable flavor odors is important in the use of spices.

According to Weber–Fecher law, the strength of an odor perceived by the

strength of smell is proportional to the logarithm of the concentration of

the smelled compounds. In other words, the sensational strength perceived by

the five senses is proportional to the logarithm of the actual strength of these

stimuli. Thus, even if 99% of the total smelled compounds are eliminated

chemically, the sensational strength perceived is reduced only by 66% (Hirasa

and Takemasa, 1998). Hence, it is more eVective and easy to mask the

remaining 1% through aromatic spice. Tokita et al. (1984) investigated

the deodorizing eYciency of various spices. The deodorizing rate (measured

by the percent of methyl mercaptan (500 mg) captured by methanol extract of

the spice) of cardamom is low (9%) compared to other spices (99% for thyme,

97% for rosemary, 90% for mint, 79% for clove, 30% for black pepper). Ito

et al. (1962) calculated the deodorizing points for major spices in masking

mutton odor. Cardamom showed a deodorizing point of 30, compared to 600

of black pepper, 90 of ginger, 50 of cinnamon, 25 of celery, 23 of garlic, 5 of

coriander, 4 of caraway, 3 of clove, 2.5 of thyme, and 0.7 of sage. Thus,

cardamom is more eVective in masking certain odors than many other spices,

although its masking capacity is poor with regard to some other flavors.

Desrosier (1978) investigated the relative flavor intensities (RFI) of various spices and cardamom was found to have an RFI of 125, compared to



392



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



200 of turmeric, 260 of curry powder blend, 300 of celery, 400 of cinnamon, 450 of black pepper, 475 of ginger, 600 of clove, 900 of cayenne pepper,

and 1000 of fresh red pepper.



2. Spice Blend and Garam Masala

Ready to use spice formulations are available in market under many

brand names. They are available either as dry powder or as soluble seasonings, which are spice extracts on salt or dextrose carriers. Most common

spice blends are curry powders, pickling spice mixes, fish or meat masala

mixes, and Garam masala, and all of them are available under a variety of

brand names.

Curry powders are most extensively used in Indian cuisine, and there are

virtually hundreds of them in the market for specific need. The basic ingredients

in most brands are coriander, cumin, turmeric added for color, and red chilies

for pungency. Other spices, such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and so

on, are added to enhance the flavor of the curry powder and as taste enhancers

to suite the Indian palate. In many such formulations, cardamom is used to

impart specific flavor but only in small quantities. The relative proportion of

cardamom in a typical curry powder formulation is given in Table LIV. The US

federal specification for curry powder is given in Table LV.

Garam masala is a blend of spices having an approximate composition of

the following ingredients.

Cumin seeds—½ oz, cardamom—1/2 oz, black pepper—1/2 oz, cinnamon—1/4 oz, and clove—1/4 oz. Other spices used in the preparation of

Garam masala add unique tastes for various dishes, but cardamom is the

major component. Kalra et al. (1991) and Premavalli et al. (2000) analyzed

the composition of Garam masala brands available in the Indian market and

found the use of 11 spices (Kalra et al., 1991), while 9–11 spices were found

by Premavalli et al. (2000). The type of ingredients and the proportions in

which they are used is a trade secret. Premavalli et al. (2000) found that in all

27 spices were used in the preparation of Garam masala of which 5 are

common to all brands (coriander, cumin, black pepper, clove, and cardamom). Cardamom imparts a special flavor to the Garam masala mix and its

use is mainly as a taste and flavor enhancer.



3.



Cardamom Oil, Oleoresin, and Soluble Cardamom



Cardamom oil is colorless or pale yellow with an aromatic pungent odor

and taste. It is produced in small quantities in some western spice‐importing

countries, and also in India, Guatemala, and Sri Lanka. The essential oil



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



393



Table LIV

Formulations for Typical Curry Powder Blends



Freshly ground

spices

Coriander

Turmeric, Madras

Fenugreek

Cinnamon

Cumin

Cardamom

Ginger, Cochin

Pepper, white

Poppy seed

Clove

Cayenne pepper

Bay leaf

Chilli, hot red pepper

Allspice

Mustard seed

Dried lemon peel



General purpose curry formulas



US standard

formula no. 1a

(%)



No. 2 (%)



No. 3 (%)



No. 4 (%)



No. 5 (%)



32

38

10

7

5

2

3

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

100



37

10

0

2

2

4

2

5

35

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

100



40

10

0

10

0

5

5

15

0

3

1

5

0

3

0

3

100



35

25

7

0

15

0

5

5

0

0

5

0

0

0

3

0

100



25

25

5

0

25

5

5

0

0

0

0

0

5

0

5

0

100



a



From the US Military Specification Mil‐C‐35042A, December 30, 1964.

Source: Farrell (1985).

Formula No. 2 is considered a mild curry, formula No. 3 a sweet curry, and formula No. 4 a hot

type, formula No. 5 a very hot, pungent Indian style curry more suited for use in the more

tropical regions of India.



Table LV

Federal Specification ES‐S‐631 J for Curry Powder

Ingredient

Turmeric

Coriander

Fenugreek

Cinnamon

Cumin

Black pepper

Ginger

Cardamom

Source: Tainter and Grenis (1993).



Limit (%)

37.0–39.0

31.0–33.0

9.0–11.0

Not < than 7.0

Not < than 5.0

Not < than 3.0

Not < than 3.0

Not < than 32.0



394



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



finds its main application in flavoring of processed foods, but it is used also

in certain liquid products such as cordials, bitters, and liquors and also,

occasionally, in perfumery. Perfumery and cosmetic industries employ the

oils of several spices including that of cardamom in the blending of volatile

and fixed oils to make dozens of alluring perfumes, far superior in quality

than that of the crude scents of the ancients (Bhandari, 1989).

Oleoresin of cardamom is produced in some spice‐producing western

countries and in India and has similar applications as that of the essential oil

in flavoring of processed foods, but is less extensively used. Both the essential

oil and oleoresin tend to develop ‘‘oV flavors’’ when exposed to air for prolonged periods and their usage is generally confined to meat products and

intended for other short shelf‐life products such as sausages. Cardamom oil

and oleroresins are used mostly as soluble spice, mixed with a carrier such as

common salt or dextrose. They are used in processed foods industry. It is easy

to use soluble spices, as they are dry, free‐flowing powder compared to liquid

essential oil or oleoresin. However, much care is needed while replacing ground

spice with oil, oleoresin, or soluble spice. Such products often need not

represent the freshly ground spice in its richness of flavor due to the loss of

some delicate components. Much investigation needs to be done in each of the

food system to match oleoresin and oil with that of the ground spice. The

replacement ratio for cardamom in comparison to other spices are given in

Table LVI.

The Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore,

Karnataka State, India, has carried out innovative research and development eVorts in diversifying cardamom uses to widen the domestic and export

markets for cardamom products. Cardamom flavor has been encapsulated

using an innovative technology. Encapsulated spices possess unique features

like free‐flowing nature, uniform flavor strength, and convenience of use.

The flavor that is encapsulated is released instantly on contact with water

(Pruthy, 1993). Cardamom‐cola, a fizzy drink with cardamom flavor, a flan

mix, an instant dessert mix with cardamom flavor, cardamom tea, cardamom coVee, cardamom milk, dry cardamom powder for soft drinks mix,

and instant Pongal (a favorite delicacy of Tamil Nadu) mix flavored with

cardamom are some other products developed by CFTRI (Pruthy, 1993).

Innovative product development programs can help diversification of cardamom use leading to the creation of new dishes and food items.



J. CONCLUSIONS

Cardamom is in use from ancient times as a flavoring agent and also as a

component in many indigenous medicines of India. Cardamom flavored tea

and coVee form part of the daily routine of people in the Middle East.



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



395



Table LVI

Replacement Ratios of Cardamom in Comparison to Other Spices

Replace 1# of

ground spice with

Spice



# Oil



# Oleoresin



Allspice

Anise

Basil

Cardamom

Caraway

Celery

Cinnamon

Clove

Coriander

Cumin

Dill seed

Fennel

Ginger

Mace

Marjoram

Nutmeg



0.020

0.020

0.005

0.030

0.010

0.010

0.025

0.140

0.003

0.020

0.020

0.010

0.015

0.140

0.008

0.060



0.035

0.050

0.050

0.015

0.050

0.100

0.025

0.050

0.070

0.040

0.050

0.050

0.035

0.070

0.050

0.080



Oregano

Black pepper

Rosemary



0.015

0.015

0.008



0.040

0.050

0.040



Sage

Savory

Tarragon



0.010

0.005

0.002



0.050

0.065





Remarks



Oil use based on volatile oil

Stem, leaf, or bud oil can be used



Nutmeg oil should be used

Spice and oil must be from the

same origin

Oil does not provide piperine bite

Oleoresin is deflavored for

antioxidant preparation



Source: Tainter and Grenis (1993).



Chewing cardamom after a meal is a habit with a large number of people,

especially in northern India. It also is used to flavor oral formulations of

many medicines, bakery product and milk. Cardamom is unique because of

its delicate blend of aroma. The potentialities of this great spice have not

been fully exploited. Cardamom is important only in Indian and South

Asian cooking but has only minimal influence on continental, American,

or Japanese cuisine. Diversification of cardamom‐based products with eye‐

catching advertisements can create fresh demand for this unique spice. The

reported property of cardamom extract in enhancing the percutaneous

absorption of medicaments can be made use of in the preparation of skin

ointments and balms as well as in oral formulations. Innovative technologies

are needed to enhance the global demand for cardamom. Product development including novel cardamom‐flavored dishes would form an important

component of this drive.



396



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



XII. A PEEP INTO THE FUTURE OF CARDAMOM

It was in the early 1930s that cardamom, from its original home India,

spread to Guatemala. India continued to be the largest producer until the

1980s. The situation has been reversed and it is Guatemala, which is leading in

production and export. During the last two decades while Indian cardamom

showed fluctuating trends in production and export, Guatemala has forged

ahead in production and productivity and also export. For the sake of

comparison, the scale of production and export from India and Guatemala

are given in Tables LVII and LVIII.

World production of cardamom during 1980–1981 was about 10,250 t and

after a decade in 1990–1991 it rose to 16,000 t—a jump by 156%, which further

increased to 22,800 t after the next decade in 2000–2001, a further jump by

142%, which peaked at 25,800 during the following 1 year 2001–2002, the

highest ever recorded, a further jump by 110%. In other words, during the last

two decades of the century past, cardamom production increased by 244%,

averaging an increase of more than 12% per annum. India has been the largest

exporter until 1980–1981. And the supremacy was challenged by Guatemala,

especially during the last decade of the century past. Practically with no

domestic demand, the entire quantity produced in Guatemala was exported.

By contrast, cardamom finds a ready domestic market in India. Owing to

well‐developed internal market, domestic prices are high and often higher

than international prices and often export from India is not possible because

of the comparatively low international price on account of the steady supply

position from Guatemala. Table LVIII gives data on export.

Table LVII

Cardamom Production (t) in India and Guatemala

Period



India



Guatemala



1990–1991

1991–1992

1992–1993

1993–1994

1994–1995

1995–1996

1996–1997

1997–1998

1998–1999

1999–2000

2000–2001

2001–2002



4750

5000

4250

6600

7000

7900

6625

7900

7170

9330

10,480

11,365



11,500

11,120

13,500

13,500

14,200

15,300

17,000

15,000

13,000

10,000

11,800

13,500



Source: India, estimates by Spices Board; Guatemala,

FAO, Rome, Embassy of India in Mexico.



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



397



Table LVIII

Cardamom export (t) from India and Guatemala

Period



India



Guatemala



1990–1991

1991–1992

1992–1993

1993–1994

1994–1995

1995–1996

1996–1997

1997–1998

1998–1999

1999–2000

2000–2001



400

544

190

387

257

527

226

297

476

646

1100



11,114

13,163

13,000

13,000

14,000

15,000

14,500

14,500

12,000

8536

D.N.A



Source: India, DGCI & S, Kolkota/shipping bills/exporters returns.

Guatemala: up to 1991–1992 Banco De Guatemala and from 1992

to 1993 estimates based on past trends. D.N.A., data not available.



India and Saudi Arabia are the largest cardamom consumers in the world.

Both the countries put together consume more than 50% of total world

production. As Indians enjoy self‐suYciency in cardamom, import is not

encouraged by the government. Yet, cardamom from Guatemala comes

through the Nepal border into India and is posing a great menace to Indian

production as this import, although clandestine, is price competitive although the cardamom from Guatemala is of lower quality. The government

of India has been unable to check this economic oVence. Table LIX gives a

comparative picture of cardamom consumption by India and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia imports its entire requirement from Guatemala. Other

important importing countries are: Kuwait, Jordan, Quatar, United Arab

Emirates, Japan, Singapore, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany, Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. Saudi

Arabia is world’s highest consumer of cardamom, where it is extensively

used in the preparation of the traditional drink Gawha. This drink is popular

also in Kuwait, Muscat, and Doha. It is reported that Gawha normally

contains 30% cardamom, and the balance is made up of coVee powder.

Often the ratio of cardamom to coVee powder can also vary in the ratio of

60:40 or 50:50. It is the elderly and conservative Arabs in the Middle East

who enjoy the Gawha (Sahadevan, 1965b). Similarly, cardamom tea is also

popular in the Middle East as well as in India (Anon, 1952b). In India,

cardamom is consumed not only in households, but also, in industrial

units and research institutions. A survey conducted by the Spices Board of

India indicates that cardamom finds manifold applications (Anon, 1977a).

The main reason for the choice of cardamom is its cool, refreshing aroma



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