Showing posts with label brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brown. Show all posts

Dec 14, 2015

Ingredients: Kali Elaichi, Black or Brown Cardamom

This is the spice commonly referred to as black or brown cardamom. It is a seed pod with an intense, smoky, resinous, and almost anti-septic camphor-like flavor. Both the seeds and pods are traditionally used to flavor hearty, savory dishes of certain regional cuisines of India and Pakistan. It is often used in garam masala mixes. The spice is called badi elaichi or kali elaichi in Hindi and Urdu.

Amomum subulatum (also known as Nepal cardamom). 
The black or brown cardamom plant is a member of the ginger family like it's close relative the green cardamom.  It has rather inconspicuous blossoms and the seed pods form at the base. The seed pods are dried and supposedly smoked before being sold for consumption. Black cardamom is unusual in that the flavor actually improves with age. The harsh camphor flavor mellows to smooth smoky notes over time.

Look closely at the base of the plant to see its creamy yellow flowers.
Black and brown cardamoms are primarily grown in Nepal. I have been told the seed pods are picked when unripe and traditionally dried over an open flame in large iron pans intensifyin their smoky flavor. I've never actually seen this done. I've only seen the red, unripened pods lying on nanglo (Nepali basket trays) drying in the sun. Nepalis often chew the seeds of black/brown cardamoms to freshen the breath, calm an upset stomach, or after dinner as a palate cleanser.



I had never seen, heard of, nor tasted black/brown cardamom before moving to the Subcontinent. I would reckon most westerners are not familiar with this spice either. Black/brown cardamom has the same sort of camphor/citrus notes as green cardamom but has a smokiness that's almost like bacon. So if your vegan friends miss that bacon-y smokiness in their beans or pea soup you can use black/brown cardamom!



The perfume by i Profumo di Firenze called "Ambra di Nepal" is said to have notes of amber, vanilla, and cardamom. I wonder if the accord described as "deep, rich resinous, like incense smoke swirling over dusty cardamom" contains this native Nepali black/brown spice, not the green or white cardamom we westerners are more familiar with in Scandinavian treats?

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