The pods and immature rhizomes of a best cardamom are used in making many Thai dishes. These provide fragrance and slightly spicy, sweet and a little bitter flavour.
ลูกกระวาน (luk krawan), well recognised in other names as a best cardamom, a cluster cardamom and Siam cardamom, is an annual monocotyledon having a rhizome as its underground stem. Its trunks can grow to 2 metres, and its leaves are long (like those of galangal leaves). Its fruits – spherical in shape, about 1 cm in diameter, light brown in colour, and having black seeds inside – form at the base of the plant. The suitable growing environment for cultivating it should have high moisture and tall trees providing it with a good shade, and the soil is also rich with minerals.
At Khoa Soi Dao, a mountain in Chanthaburi province, the best cardamom grown here is considered as the finest in Thailand since the area in which it is cultivated is 400 metres above the sea level, covered with dense vegetation including tall trees and a stratum of bushes smaller trees, and having high moisture. Moreover, the soil here is thick and rich with minerals, and has a good drainage.
Thai culinary uses
The pods of the best cardamom; Its pods are included in making many delicious Thai dishes. in making massaman curry paste, the pods are first roasted to provide a better flavour (also to add a smoky dimension) before peeling and then take only the black seeds inside to grind and mix with other ingredients. In Thai-Chinese cooking, it is one of the five spices added in making a palo dish (a popular stew in Thai-Chines style). And the pods are popularly simmered with other ingredients in making the broth of beef noodles.
The rhizome of the best cardamom; Different from others, Thai food is always included many spices, herbs or pungent vegetables to cover the unpleasant smell of meats. In Chanthaburi province, its immature rhizome (quite tender) is popularly sliced and added in making phad phed (a spicy stir-fried meat with curry paste) and kaeng pa (a spicy curry without coconut milk). Phad phed nuea, a spicy stir-fried beef with this rhizome and curry past, is very popular here.