What Is Black Cardamom (Badi Elaichi) and How Is It Used?

Black cardamom pods halved
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The Indian name for Black Cardamom is Badi Elaichi or Kali Elaichi. Roughly 2.5 to 3 cm in length, Badi Elaichi pods are dark brown to black in color and have a tough, dried, wrinkly skin. They are highly aromatic but not as much as Green Cardamom. Black Cardamom is dried over a smoke fire and therefore has a distinct smokey aroma. The seeds have sweetish, smokey flavor.

Buying it

Always try to buy black cardamom whole rather than in seed form as it begins to lose its potency and aroma when the skin is removed and seeds are stored without the skin.

It is also preferable not to buy the powdered form if whole pods are available, for the same reason. When required for use as a powder, remove the skin and discard and then grind the seeds in a clean, dry coffee grinder and use immediately. Look for fragrant, well formed pods that are plump, firm, dry and about an inch in length.

Using it

Black Cardamom is a key ingredient in India's famous Garam Masala and several other masalas (spice mixes). It is largely used in savory dishes ranging from curries, stews and daals (lentil dishes) to pilafs, in Indian cooking. It is mostly used whole and almost always fried in a little oil to cause it to fully release its flavors and aroma.

Uses Other Than Cooking

Historically, Black Cardamom has been used to treat various stomach ailments, common infections, and dental problems. It is also chewed as a mouth freshener.