Amomum subulatum Roxb.

Black cardamom pods are amazingly aromatic spice as a food additive. Its aromatic essence is well-known; and becoming more popular among the new test explorers. Nepalese black cardamom is used for both medicinal and spice purposes. Now, it’s your turn to explore its test and essence. The dark brown pods of black cardamom are being used as flavoring base in both food and drink as well as in medicine. The pods have camphor-like intense flavor commonly used in spicy stews in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan as well as in China.

Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Amomum
Species: A. subulatum, A. costatum
Binomial name: Amomum subulatum/ Amomum costatum Roxb.  
English name: Black Cardamom
Nepali name: Alainchi
Trade name: Black cardamom
Harvesting period: August-September
Parts used: Fruits,Pod

Habitats: sub-Himalayan region

Chemical constituents: Plant parts of Ammomum subulatum mainly contain the glycosides, petunidin 3, 5-diglucoside, leucocyanidin-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, chalcone, cardamonin, flavanone, alpinetin and subulin. Acid hydrolysis of subulin gave the aglycone, subulaurone. The seeds on steam distillation yield a dark brown, mobile essential oil (2.5%) having a characteristic odor of cineol. Volatile oils present in seed containing cineol (74%), limonene (10.3%), myrcene (0.3%), α-terpinene (0.2% and 4-terpinene (0.2%).The seeds of A. subulatum contains the glycosides, Petunidin-3,5-diglucoside, Leucocyanidin-3-O-ß-D glucopyranoside.Subulin (New aurone glycoside) and 1-8, Cineole, α-terpinyl Acetate.

Black cardamom also called Large Cardamom is native to the Sub-Himalayan region of Nepal and Bhutan & India. It is a high value spice crop used for both as spice and flavoring agent. 

Black cardamom is a perennial herbaceous plant with subterranean rhizomes that give rise to several leafy shoots and panicles. It is the dried fruit of a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family. Its Botanical name is Amomum subulatum Roxb from ginger (Zingiberaceae) family. The smoky fragrance of the pure spice is not discernible in the finished dish and black cardamom cannot dominate a dish, but enhances and intensifies the taste of other ingredients. The pods should be slightly crushed before usage. Black cardamom needs some time to develop its aroma best. They have dark brown, rough outer coat, measuring about 2-4 cm in length and 1-2 cm in diameter. The pods have camphor-like intense flavor commonly used in spicy stews in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan as well as in China.

Nepal is second largest cardamom producer in the world.

  • Black cardamom contains anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
  • Cardamom spicy pods contain many essential volatile oils that include pinene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-oil, a-terpineol, a-terpineol acetate, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, methyl eugenol, trans-nerolidol, limonene and 1, 8-cineole.
  • The therapeutic properties of cardamom-oil is applied in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic.
  • Nepalese black cardamom is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium that helps to control heart rate and blood pressure and to produce red blood cells.
  • It is also a rich source of iron and manganese. 100 g pods contain 13.97 mg or 175% of daily-required levels of iron.
  • Black cardamom pods are rich in many vital vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health.

Medicinal use:
The therapeutic properties of cardamom oil have found application in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and local anesthetic, antioxidant in addition to health promoting and disease preventing roles.

Culinary use:
It is used as aromatic spice mostly in Nepalese, Indian, Bhutanese, Central and Southern Chinese cuisines. In India and Pakistan, black cardamom seeds are often an important component of the Indo-Pak spice mixture garam masala. In China, the pods are used for long-braised meat dishes, particularly in the cuisine of the central-western province of Sichuan.

Black cardamoms are packed in jute sacks with capacity of 40 to 100 Kg. The packaging practices, however, differ with the intended duration of stocking.

  • Storage period less than 15 days, cardamom packed in jute bags and left unstitched
  • Storage period more than 15 days, packed in jute bags with plastic sheet lining

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