From West Africa come these mbongô 'pods' filled with peppery seeds. Mbongo pepper is also called alligator pepper . The egg-shaped seed pod - it's not a bean, so it's not a pod either - contains seeds that are very similar to the better-known paradise grain.
Typical citrus aroma that immediately reminds you of lemongrass (sereh). Mbongô is one of the four local peppers in the famous Nigerian pepper soup nwo-nwo.
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 quickly fall off to make way for 10 cm large bottle-shaped fruits.
The fruit pods are filled with dozens of seeds in a jelly-like fluid. Once dried, the papery covering conceals an egg-shaped fruit consisting of apparently scaly segments. With some light pressure, these disintegrate into 3 mm large, shiny, pale brown seeds. Remarkably enough, the intact mbongô has little or no scent, and neither do the seeds. The scent is released as soon as you crush or grind the seeds.
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, such as in pepper soup in Nigeria.
Related spices are the already mentioned corn of paradise (Aframomum melegueta), kororima (Aframomum kororima) and Madagascar cardamom (Aframomum angustifolium). The first is quite common, the second not so common, and the third is very rare (unavailable).
Smell and taste
The aroma is determined by a deliciously fresh lemongrass scent (sereh), which disguises the fact that the seeds can be quite peppery. In terms of composition, the essential oil in mbongô is in many ways similar to that of cardamom and 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, corn of paradise, selim pepper, cubeb pepper, ginger, garlic nut and African mint. Each and every one of them tastemakers from the fascinating West African gastronomy.
Before you open the seed pod (it is not eaten) it is roasted dark brown, allowing the seeds to display their rich aroma. After removing the 'paper' shell from the seed pod, crush the mbongo to release the individual seeds. Remove the remains of the dried jelly.
- 100% fruits of the Aframomum danielli (unpeeled)
- origin: Cameroon
- available in glass, pouch and test tube
- glass jar contains 30 grams
- stand-up pouches with a content of up to 30 to 500 grams
- available in 10 ml test tube (shelled)
- 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
- keep your mbongo pepper in closed packaging
- preferably store in a dark, dry and cool place
- best before December 2025 (12/25)
- this best before date is an indication
Do you want to know how this mbongo tastes?
Could you also try a test tube with peeled mbongo? The tube contains enough pepper to understand the flavor essence..