Some good friends, and clearly, intrepid wanderers, have recently returned from a trip to Nepal with these spices in tow. One of them had done a stunning trek through towns with no roads some two decades ago in Nepal and this time around, they managed to get places by vehicle, but the beauty and rural simplicity of the place has remained. They were so excited to present this jewel colored pouch filled with the most aromatic and smokey black cardamom, organic and fresh from the farm…
Often considered the poor sibling of the more well-known green cardamom, black cardamom is apparently used primarily in savory dishes, like curries, soups and stews. I have honestly never come across this spice in its natural form before, though I suspect I have enjoyed it is several dishes of Indian or even Indo-chinese origins. Some sources on the net say it is one of the distinct flavors in a good pho, for example… And it’s essential for that well-known Indian spice mixture, garam masala. Our friends suggested simply making a cup of black cardamom infusion, which Mrs. MM did last night, and liked it a lot.
The spice comes from what looks like a relative of a galanggal or ginger plant, but it isn’t the root that is used, but these (I presume) flower/seed pods. This stash we received was quite smokey, as they apparently dry the spice over an open, smoky fire. They were moist and fresh when first acquired, but have since been slightly dried out. Often described by others as having a camphor-like flavor, it is strong and can be overwhelming, so use with moderation.