Black Cardamom

Medicinal uses
In Chinese medicine, tsao-ko is used to treat stomach disorders and malaria.

Warning
Packages warn not to eat the product uncooked or as a snack food.
In Manipur, the seed is used in the treatment of cough, vomiting, enlarged spleen and diseases of rectum.

Attention
Black cardamom is often erroneously described as an inferior substitute for green cardamom by those who are unfamiliar with the spice. Although the flavor differs from the smaller green cardamom, black cardamom is sometimes used by large-scale commercial bakers because of its cheapness.

Characteristics
The pods are used as a spice, in a manner similar to the green Indian cardamom pods, but those have a drastically 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. It is also called badhi elaichi in Hindi.

Species
There are at least two distinct species of black cardamom: Amomum subulatum (also known as Nepal cardamom) and Amomum costatum or A. tsao-ko. The pods of A. subulatum, used primarily in the cuisines of India, are the smaller of the two, while the larger pods of A. costatum (Chinese: wiktionary:??; pinyin: caoguo; Vietnamese: th?o qu?) are used in Chinese cuisine, particularly that of Sichuan; and Vietnamese cuisine.

Culinary uses
A commercial pack of black cardamom
Black cardamom pods can be used in soups, chowders, casseroles, and marinades for smoky flavor, much in the way bacon is used.

In India and Pakistan
In India and Pakistan, black cardamom seeds are often an important component of the Indo-Pak spice mixture garam masala. Black cardamom is also commonly used in savory dal and rice dishes. In Tamil, it is called maratti mokku or In Manipuri, it is called elaichi achouba. It is also used in making traditional tea (chai).

In China
In China, the pods are used for long-braised meat dishes, particularly in the cuisine of the central-western province of Sichuan.

In Vietnam
The pods are also often used in Vietnam, where they are called th?o qu? and used as an ingredient in the broth for the noodle soup called ph?.

Black cardamom (also known as brown cardamom, elaichi, th?o qu? and tsao-ko) is a plant in the family Zingiberaceae. Its seed pods have a strong camphor-like flavor, with a smoky character derived from the method of drying.