Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ancient history of cardamom

Cardamom, popularly known as the ‘Queen of Spices’ is the second most important spice crop in the world, next to black pepper, which is known as the ‘King of Spices’. It is the third most expensive spice in the world, after saffron and vanilla.

Cardamom has a history as old as the human race. The earliest reference to cardamom is from the ancient city of Nippur, Sumaira, dated 2000 BC, on a clay tablet. It indicates that ground cardamom was mixed with bread and added to soups.

It is mentioned in ancient Vedic texts by Theophrastus in the fourth century BC and later by Dioscorides in the 5th century BC.

According to Taitreya Samhita (3000Bc), in ancient Hindu culture, sacrificial fire was a common ritual and in ancient texts, cardamom was an ingredient, along with several other materials, the sacrificial fire, solemnizing a Hindu marriage.

Cardamom grew in the gardens of the King of Babylon in 720 BC. It was used as early as the 4th century BC by Indian Ayurvedic experts and by ancient Greeks and Romans. Spices were the symbols of royalty and luxury and cardamom was used in the manufacture of perfumes during Greek and Romans times.

The ancient Egyptians chewed cardamom seeds as a tooth cleaner. It was featured regularly in the ‘Arabian Nights’ for its aphrodisiac qualities and the ancient Indians regarded it as a cure for obesity.

Cardamom is believed to be a native of India. It was probably imported into Europe in 1214 AD. Viking explorers visiting what is now Turkey about one thousand years ago brought it back to Scandinavia where it still remains a popular spice.
Ancient history of cardamom