From West Africa comes Mbongô (mbongo), also called alligator pepper because of its appearance. The dried seed pod contains a 'scaly' palette of small seeds, reminiscent of corn of paradise, encased in fragile, hardened jelly.
The mbongô grows on a two meter high shrub from the ginger genus, which has rhizomes like many ginger species. Just above the ground it forms trumpet-shaped, green flowers that seem to come straight out of the ground. They soon fall off to make way for 10 cm large fruits.
These are seed pods, filled with dozens of seeds in a jelly-like liquid. After drying, the seeds can be released from their capsule. This is done manually only. The seeds are about 3 mm in size, shiny and deep brown. Remarkably enough, they have little or no smell, but even more so after they have been ground.
Our Mbongô comes from Cameroon, where the spice is used in many famous dishes, such as in Mbongô tchòbi, fish in black sauce. The spice is also used in other West African countries, especially in pepper soup.
Related spices are corn of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) and Madagascar cardamom (Aframomum angustifolium). The first is quite common, the second very rare.
Mbongô is one of the four local peppers in the famous Nigerian pepper soup nwo-nwo, together with ashanti pepper (uziza), selim pepper (uda ewentia) and gourd nutmeg (ehuru).
Smell and taste
The seeds have a delicious, almost overwhelming fresh scent of lemongrass (sereh), which remains hidden until the seeds are ground. They are quite peppery, like paradise corn. In terms of composition, the essential oil in mbongô is in many ways similar to cardamom, and also ginger. Some of the flavor and aroma essential oils in mbongô are:
- citronellol, the scent of sereh
- afromodial, the unsaturated dialdehyde that causes the sharpness,
- 1,8-cineole, eucalyptol, the refreshing taste of mint
- β-pinene, woody pine scent, as in cumin, pine (pine cone), juniper and hemp,
- α-terpineol, sweet floral scent like lilac.
- sabinene, responsible for the woody, camphor-like flavor of black pepper and nutmeg, among others
- β-myrcene, spicy aroma, with notes of fruits (mango, grape, peach) and mint,
- α-caryophyllene (humulene), hops, as in beer and cannabis
- d-limonene, citrus, orange flavor
You can use Mbongô in literally any dish, even in cooked rice or pasta, but preferably in a palette of West African spices and herbs such as gourd nutmeg, ashanti pepper, paradise grain, selim pepper, cubeb pepper, ginger, garlic nut and African coin. Each and every one of them taste makers from the fascinating West African gastronomy.
Grush - or mortar - the seeds shortly before use, after briefly roasting them.
- 100% seeds of the Aframomum danielli
- origin: Central Cameroon
- available in glass, pouch and test tube
- glass jar contains 75 grams
- stand-up pouches with a content of up to 30 to 500 grams
- available in 10 ml test tube
- larger quantities on request
- the jar is available in a tasteful gift box, consisting of a cube box filled with black tissue paper
- for an overview of our gift packaging, please refer to the category gift packaging
- grind the pepper at the last minute to maximize the aroma - preferably roast it briefly first
- keep your mbongo pepper in closed packaging
- preferably store in a dark, dry and cool place
- best before December 2025 (12/25)
- this expiration date is an indication