Skip to main content

Black Cardamom

Black cardamom spice

What is Black Cardamom?

Black cardamom is the dried fruits of plants of the genus Amomum, used as a spice. Ripe fruits are covered with pile and have a red color, which turns brown after drying. The fruits are small pods, which contain small seeds inside, which give black cardamom its taste and aroma. As a spice, both whole pods of black cardamom, and only its seeds can be used. The aroma of black cardamom has hints of camphor, and its taste is reminiscent of ginger with a resinous astringent bite. Due to the unique combination of taste and smell, black cardamom is a rather rare but valuable spice. According to tradition, black cardamom is dried over an open fire, therefore, in addition to natural shades of aroma, its pods acquire a light aroma of smoke. It is important to note that black cardamom has nothing to do with a completely different spice called cardamom or green cardamom. Black cardamom is a separate spice.

The Use of Black Cardamom in Cooking

Unlike green cardamom, black cardamom is not as widely used in cooking. But if black cardamom is not used in recipes for sweet dishes, pastries and desserts, then it goes well with spicy meat and vegetable dishes. Black cardamom can be added to dishes in the form of pods - in this case, they are crushed, but not destroyed, and removed from the dish after cooking. You can also use just black cardamom seeds, but in this case it is better to grind them. The peculiarity of black cardamom as a spice is that its use in combination with other spices enhances their flavor without overpowering it. Another feature is that black cardamom does not immediately give off flavor to the finished dish; it takes several hours, and possibly even a day, to fully reveal its aroma. One of the uses of black cardamom in cooking is the preparation of various alcoholic beverages with its addition, which, in combination with other spices, gives the drink a unique taste and aroma. In addition to its use as a spice on its own, black cardamom is an ingredient in several seasonings, the most famous of which is garam masala, which is very popular both in India and abroad.

The Use of Black Cardamom in Medicine

Black cardamom is used in both classical and traditional Chinese medicine.

The Benefits and Harms of Black Cardamom

The benefits of black cardamom have been known since ancient China. Classical medicine uses it as an astringent, hypnotic, black cardamom stimulates appetite, improves liver and heart function. In addition, this spice has analgesic, antioxidant, antiemetic and antimicrobial properties. Chinese traditional medicine uses black cardamom to treat malaria, indigestion, coughs, nausea, vomiting, and other ailments. Black cardamom can cause harm in case of its individual intolerance by the human body.

Scientific Name of Black Cardamom

To obtain black cardamom, plants of two different species Amomum subulatum and Amomum costatum are used. The Amomum subulatum plant has small pods and is used predominantly in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, while Amomum costatum has larger fruits and is common in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines.

Black Cardamom and Its Cultivation

Black cardamom is mainly grown in the subtropics, on the slopes of the Himalayan mountains. Its main producers are India, Bhutan and Nepal. Plants begin to bear fruit in the third year after planting and produce one crop per year. Black cardamom fruits must be harvested when they are not fully ripe, so that the pods do not open and lose their seeds.

In What Form Can You Buy Black Cardamom?

Black cardamom can only be bought as dried pods. Destroyed pods or seeds taken out of them quickly lose their flavor, for this reason, such manipulations are done immediately before using this spice. And in general, and even in a hermetically sealed container, black cardamom can be stored for a long time without losing its taste and aroma. For this reason, you can only buy black cardamom in pods, unlike green cardamom, which is also available in ground form.