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Green cardamom, often referred to as the “Queen of Spices,” has a rich history and cultural significance that spans centuries and continents. This aromatic spice is not only cherished for its unique flavor but also for its numerous medicinal properties. In this blog, we’ll take you on a journey through time to explore the origins of green cardamom, its historical significance, and its diverse uses across different cultures.

Origins of Green Cardamom

Green cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is native to the tropical forests of southern India and Sri Lanka. These regions provide the ideal conditions for the growth of this perennial plant, which thrives in the humid, shaded environment of the forest understorey. The Western Ghats of India, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are particularly famous for their cardamom plantations.

Historically, green cardamom was highly prized in ancient trade routes. It was one of the many exotic spices that traveled along the Silk Road, making its way from India to the Middle East and Europe. The spice was so valuable that it was often used as a form of currency and was offered as a gift to gods and royalty. Ancient Egyptians used cardamom as part of their embalming process and as a mouth freshener, while the Greeks and Romans used it in their perfumes and culinary dishes.

Cultural Uses Across the World

Green cardamom’s journey across the world has led to its integration into various culinary and medicinal traditions. Let’s explore how different cultures have embraced this versatile spice:

Middle Eastern Coffee

In the Middle East, cardamom is a key ingredient in Arabic coffee (qahwa). This traditional coffee is often flavored with crushed cardamom pods, which impart a distinctive aroma and taste. The coffee is usually prepared in a special pot called a dallah and served in small cups. The addition of cardamom not only enhances the flavor but also aids digestion, making it a perfect end to a meal.

Indian Chai

In India, cardamom is an essential component of masala chai, a spiced tea blend that also includes cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and black pepper. The warming, aromatic quality of cardamom makes it a favorite in this popular beverage. Additionally, cardamom is used in numerous Indian sweets and desserts, such as kheer (rice pudding), gulab jamun (sweet dumplings), and barfi (milk-based fudge).

Scandinavian Baked Goods

In Scandinavia, cardamom is a cherished spice in baking. It is commonly used in traditional pastries and bread, such as the Finnish pulla, a sweet, cardamom-flavored bread often enjoyed with coffee, and Swedish kardemummabullar, which are cardamom buns similar to cinnamon rolls. The spice’s sweet, floral notes complement the rich, buttery flavors of these baked goods.

Traditional Indian Medicine

Green cardamom has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is believed to have various health benefits, including aiding digestion, improving oral health, and alleviating respiratory issues. Cardamom is often used in traditional remedies for colds, coughs, and even depression. Its essential oils are considered to have antimicrobial properties, making it useful in treating infections.


The history and cultural significance of green cardamom are as rich and complex as its flavor. From its origins in the lush forests of India and Sri Lanka to its role in ancient trade routes and its widespread use in global cuisines and traditional medicine, cardamom has truly earned its title as the “Queen of Spices.” By understanding its historical and cultural contexts, we can deepen our appreciation for this remarkable spice and its enduring legacy.

If you’re inspired by the fascinating journey of green cardamom and want to experience its rich flavor and aroma, consider purchasing high-quality green cardamom from Spice Shuttle. We offer organically grown and fair trade certified cardamom, ensuring you get the best product while supporting ethical practices. Visit our website to explore our selection and place your order today.