Mbongô (mbongo), also called alligator pepper, comes from West Africa. The dried seed pod contains a 'scaly' palette of small seeds, reminiscent of the grain of paradise, encased in fragile, hardened jelly.
The mbongô grows on a two-meter-high shrub from the ginger genus, which, like many ginger-like plants, has rhizomes. Just above the ground it produces trumpet-shaped, green flowers that seem to come straight from 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 freed from their capsule. This is done exclusively manually. The seeds are approximately 3 mm in size, shiny and deep brown. Strangely enough, they have little or no odor, 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 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, along 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 a grain of paradise. In composition, the essential oil in mbongô is similar in many ways to cardamom, and also to ginger. Some of the taste and smell essential oils in mbongô are:
- citronellol, the scent of sereh
- aphromodial, the unsaturated dialdehyde that causes the pungency,
- 1,8-cineole, eucalyptol, the refreshing taste of mint
- β-pinene, woody pine odor, as in cumin, pine, juniper and hemp,
- α-terpineol, sweet floral scent like lilac.
- sabinene, responsible for the woody, camphoraceous 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 aroma
Mbongô can literally be used in any dish, even cooked rice or pasta, but preferably in a palette of West African spices and herbs such as gourd nutmeg, ashanti pepper, grain of paradise, selim pepper, cubeb pepper, ginger, garlic nut and African coin. Each and every one of them are seasonings from the fascinating West African gastronomy.
Grind - or mortar - the seeds shortly before use, after first roasting them briefly.
- 100% seeds of the Aframomum danielli
- origin: Central Cameroon
- available in glass, stand-up pouch and test tube
- glass jar contains 75 grams
- stand-up pouches with a capacity of up to 30 to 500 grams
- available in test tube of 10 ml
- larger quantities on request
- the jar is available in a tasteful gift packaging, consisting of a cube box filled with black tissue paper
- For an overview of our gift packaging, please refer to the gift packaging section
- Grind the pepper at the last minute to maximize the aroma - preferably roast it briefly first
- store 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