Black cardamom, also known as hill cardamom, Bengal cardamom, greater cardamom, Indian cardamom, Nepal cardamom, winged cardamom, or brown cardamom, comes from either of two species in the family Zingiberaceae. Its seed pods have a strong camphor-like flavor, with a smoky character derived from the method of drying.
The pods are used as a spice, in a similar manner to the green Indian cardamom pods, but with a different flavor. Unlike green cardamom, this spice is rarely used in sweet dishes. Its smoky flavor and aroma derive from traditional methods of drying over open flames.Black cardamom is often erroneously described as an inferior substitute for green cardamom by those unfamiliar with the spice; actually it is just not as well suited for the sweet/hot dishes which typically include cardamom, and that are more commonly prepared outside the plant's native range. Black cardamom, by contrast, is better for hearty meat stews and similar dishes. Although the flavor differs from the smaller green cardamom, black cardamom is sometimes used by large-scale commercial bakers because of its cheapness.
Black cardamom can be found in the seasonings/spices aisle of Indian grocery store or most Asian grocery stores. It is best to buy whole black cardamom rather than in its seed form as it loses its potency and fragrance when the skin is removed. Try to choose fragrant, plump and firm pods.
Use a mixer grinder to grind the whole cardamom to a fine powder. Sieve the ground cardamom powder to remove the tough outer skin. Store in an air tight container.
Medicinal uses of black cardamom are many. It cures stones of the kidney and gall bladder and is also used to treat stomach ailments and dental problems. It is also chewed as a mouth freshener. It aids digestion and is a stimulant. It has a calming effect on the digestive tract and is used as a remedy for gastritis and dyspepsia. It is also used to treat respiratory problems like asthma. Cardamom has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce muscle spasms. Black cardamom is used to treat sexual disorders, premature ejaculation and impotency.
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