Native to sub-Himalayan region, black cardamom is the dried fruit of a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family. Apart from its usage in India, Nepal and other Asian countries, black cardamom is not common. Some people describe black cardamom as an inferior substitute to green cardamom, but it is considered a valuable spice in Nepal. When cooked with this spice, it enhances and intensifies the taste of food without overpowering a dish. It is one of the ingredients used to make Nepali Garam Masala spice blends, and is also used in meat curries, rice dishes and pickles. It is available in Indian, Nepali food stores. Look for pods with moist, sweet seeds, and smoky fragrance. Old pods with splits and cracks will have poor quality seeds with no flavor. The seeds quickly lose their flavor once the pods are opened, so store the pods whole and grind the seeds as needed.
|Many Nepalese chew black cardamom to freshen the breath and palate. It is also used as a home remedy for digestive disorders and considered beneficial to teeth and gums.|
|The pod is oval shaped and dark brown, tough and leathery with deep wrinkles. Each pod contains several moist brown seeds that are sticky, flavorful, and once crushed, emit a pleasant smoky aroma with a hint of camphor.|
|The above picture shows the black cardamom is used in different forms - whole, seeded (shell discarded), powdered form and slightly crushed to release flavor before cooking with the ingredients.|