THE ART OF BUYING CARDAMOM

Cardamom is called the ‘Queen of Spices’, and with plenty of good reason. But there’s more to cardamom than just adding flavour and taste to various cuisines, delicacies and desserts. This God-given condiment also has excellent medicinal properties and may help manage several kinds of ailments and medical conditions.

When so much is riding on it, there’s all the more reason to ensure that the quality of the cardamom you’re purchasing is above board. But does that mean there are poor, inferior or even spurious qualities in cardamom?

Spurious unlikely, because cardamom is natural and not man-made; but there are definite levels and grades when it comes to quality. As a discerning buyer and someone concerned for your family’s health and wellbeing, here’s what you should know when it comes to buying cardamom.

Aroma and Flavour

Cardamom doesn’t generally spoil, but it can lose its potency – which is its aroma and flavour. Once the potency is lost, it’s more or less useless as it cannot impart intensity to the dishes it is being added to, specifically for the reason of flavour.

Fresh cardamom is always the best. But it isn’t like the cardamom that reaches you was harvested ten minutes ago! Thus it all comes down to how the pods were packed, stored and transported. Cardamom that is securely handled right from harvesting to packaging to transportation, following stringent operating procedures, will best seal in all its natural goodness. Such type of cardamom, from a top-most exporter of cardamom like Emperor Akbar, will reach you with all its aroma and flavour securely locked in.

Which brings up the question: Where does the aroma and flavour come from? It’s all in the oil which is itself contained in the seeds. The simple thumb rule is: greater the diameter of the pod, more the seed ratio, hence greater the oil content and thus greater the aroma and flavour. However, this oil is volatile and will gradually evaporate over a period of time.

That’s why, even after the cardamom reaches you from cardamom exporters or retailers, storage becomes the key factor in maintaining its potency. In the end, like every other natural produce, time itself is the biggest enemy. Cardamom that has been improperly stored or stored for too long, can lose the vibrancy of its colour and more important the intensity of its aroma and flavour.

Identifying Potency

So how does one identify the best-grade cardamom in the first place?

It’s in the colour of the husks and seeds, but easier identified by the aroma. Discoloured husks are an indicator of staleness. Again, seeds that are pale or lighter tan in colour (as opposed to dark brown or black) indicate staleness, which is often seen in the case of many elaichi suppliers. But the simplest test would be to cup a handful of pods and smell it. Instinctively you’ll know how much of the original freshness is still packed in by the aroma that hits you.

Unfortunately, it’s never a good idea to buy cardamom loose. Precisely because you don’t know how long the pods have been kept exposed – which is the worst way to store them. But that doesn’t automatically mean that all packaged cardamom is of good quality. Because, as mentioned earlier, how the cardamom is packed, stored and transported by the cardamom wholesaler is just as important. Improperly packed or transported cardamom can just as easily lose its oil content to evaporation – and you now know that cardamom with lower oil content means weak aroma and flavour too. Useless!

World’s Best Cardamom

All things considered, you can never go wrong when you purchase Emperor Akbar Cardamom. This is officially certified as the best Alleppey Green Cardamom in the entire world. Emperor Akbar is one of only two entities on the planet conferred with the coveted GI Tag. Which means, no one else can even so much as claim to produce, market or promote Alleppey Green Cardamom!

Emperor Akbar Cardamom’s world-beating quality goes beyond the GI Tag – or, in a sense, the GI Tag is because of the standard operating procedures the brand stringently follows down to every pack… in fact, everypod!

To begin with, the Alleppey Green Cardamom that Emperor Akbar procures is a result of specific climate, soil and water native only to Kerala, where it is grown. Then, the harvesting and sorting is done by native experts whose skill has been passed down generations – dating back to the Raja of Travancore whose legacy of cardamom quality has been inherited by Emperor Akbar (That fabled story for another time!)

The pods are specifically measured by diameter and sorted accordingly. Emperor Akbar colour-codes its packs to indicate the same – the largest pods go into purple aroma-lock packs, the next largest into pink, then green, orange and finally red. However, it does not mean that the lower grades are poor in quality or freshness. Emperor Akbar assures you that every pod in every pack was harvested fresh and that freshness has been sealed in by innovative packaging and transportation. From a different perspective, specific cooking applications also require specific grades (sizes) of pods.

Sealing in the Potency

Getting back to the packaging innovation, it is first seen in the unique aroma-lock packs. These are designed to ensure that not just while in transit, but even after you start using the contents, the unused portion remains fresh – so long as you securely close the locking mechanism after every use. In effect, you shouldn’t even transfer Emperor Akbar cardamom into another container. Thanks to the aroma-lock, it remains freshest in the pack itself!

And then there’s the matter of transportation from the cardamom wholesaler. This is where a lot of other packaged cardamom can lose their oil content. Not Emperor Akbar’s! That’s because even after aroma-locking each individual pack, they are themselves packed into cartons that have been specifically designed to even survive reasonable immersion in water.

In short, that pack of Emperor Akbar cardamom reaches your kitchen table at almost the same freshness level as when it was packed, which makes it the better than any other elaichi exporter. The best green cardamom in the world!

Cheaper is Never Better

So don’t get fooled by cheaper elaichi wholesaler and varieties available in the open market or online. Quality comes at a price; but then, even the cheaper, inferior varieties will prove to be costlier in the long run. Be reminded again that once cardamom loses its aroma and flavour, it becomes useless. Thus, as many chefs, restaurants and food specialists around the world have discovered, where you may need three pods of cheaper but inferior cardamomfrom any elaichi wholesaler to achieve a certain intensity of flavour, you will need just one pod of Emperor Akbar cardamom to attain the same result. Which only means that Emperor Akbar Cardamom is more economical and friendly on the pocket.

And extremely popular too. Emperor Akbar Cardamom is heavily exported to the Middle East, Far East, Europe and beyond.

There, now you know how to identify good quality cardamom. Though, you won’t even need that knowledge any more, because there’s a far simpler way. Simply go online at shop.emperorakbar.com and place your order. Quality is assured because Emperor Akbar ensures it. All nicely graded by pack colour for your convenience. Available in a range of packs too, starting from 100 gms.

Just one last thing left to reassure yourself that none of this was mere advertising or promotion. When your pack arrives, open it, cup a handful of pods to your nose, close your eyes and blissfully take in the intense aroma of the best Alleppey Green Cardamom in the entire world! Aaaaaaah, heavenly!

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