Cardamom is an aromatic, tropical, evergreen perennial herb, native to southern India and Sri Lanka that grows to a height of 2–5 metres. The leaves are alternate, linear-lanceolate, dark green on the upper surface, paler glaucous green on the underside and are 40–60cm in length with a pointed tip. The flowering stems are horizontal and creeping and produce 2-lipped flowers alternately along the stem which are yellowish-white to pale violet in colour with magenta markings on the upper petal. The ovoid, triangular fruits are yellowish-green in colour and 1–2cm in length, and contain 12-15 small black seeds.
Ground cardamom is excellent to add to recipes such as biscuits, breads, cakes and desserts where a smooth texture is required, and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It is one of the spices used to make Chai tea, imparting a camphorous, lemony zing to the tea; it can also be added to mulled wine and spice cordials. Add to spiced rice dishes such as pilau, soups, stews, curries and tagines. Cardamom can also be added to spice mixes when stewing fruit, making chutneys, compotes and even to ice-cream and chocolate truffles!
Shelf life of two years provided that goods are stored in an airtight container in ambient conditions