The Queen Of Spices And Why Kerala Is The Undisputed King Of This Market

Monsoon season is in full swing in India, and rainy days are the perfect time to enjoy a cup of spicy cardamom tea. Imagine some hot biriyani with the rich spiciness of cardamom in it on a lazy Sunday at noon. It sounds delicious, doesn’t it? There is a whole variety of foods that are enhanced by cardamom’s flavor. The spice plant cardamom, also known as the queen of spices, grows abundantly in Kerala. Cardamom is scientifically known as Elettaria Cardomomum and belongs to the ginger family. Locally, it is known as ‘Elakai’. To understand the cultivation of cardamom in Kerala, let’s examine the plant’s history. Around 200 years ago, it grew wildly in southern India. Then, the British started cardamom plantations in Kerala. Cardamom was imported by the Greeks during the 2nd century, according to historical records.

In addition to India, cardamom is now grown in countries like Guatemala, Indonesia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Cardamom production in Kerala is the largest in India. This plant grows in evergreen forests on the Western Ghats. The growth of cardamom is influenced primarily by three factors. Altitude, annual rainfall, and temperature make up these factors. Cardamom farming in Kerala is mainly done in the Idukki district, in which, Kumily is the country’s largest cardamom market.

Cardamom grows best in deep, black loam soil that is rich in humus. Forest regions have this type of soil in the country. The total area under cardamom cultivation in Kerala is above thirty thousand hectares. In our country, cardamom is grown in many varieties. Major varieties of the cardamom plant in Kerala are Malabar, Mysore, and vazuka. Cardamom varieties are categorized according to the color and size of the capsule. Harvesting season begins in June and lasts until February. The interval is between fifteen and thirty days. 

Cardamom is a spice that is quite expensive. The price per kilogram is more than 2500 rupees and it changes on a day-to-day basis. The reason they are expensive is that they are picked by hand. The process of cardamom cultivation in Kerala is very labor-intensive. We love cardamom even though they are expensive. From tea to biriyani, we like to use it as an ingredient in food to add that piney, fruity flavor. Some spices are said to leave a long-lasting impression on the palate and a longer-lasting impression in our memories and cardamom is one of them.  

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