The word cardamom is derived from the Latin cardamomum, the latinisation of the Greek καρδ?μωμον (kardamomon). Cardamom is a very ancient spice native to the East originating in the forests of the western ghats in southern India. Today it also grows in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Indo China and Tanzania. The ancient Egyptians chewed cardamom seeds as a tooth cleaner; the Greeks and Romans used it as a perfume. Vikings came upon cardamom about one thousand years ago introducing it into Scandinavia where it remains popular to this day.
Cardamom is a precious spice, second only to saffron. Cardamom is often combined with orange, cinnamon, cloves, and caraway.
Cardamom seed is often included in Indian sweet dishes and drinks. It is seen as a festive spice. Other uses are; in pickles, especially pickled herring; in punches and mulled wines; occasionally with poultry. It also flavors Turkish coffee when served with elaborate ritual. Cardamom is in many curry powder and chai recipes, used for flavoring cakes and other treats.