Regenbogen Rauchfahne
Indischer Weihrauch & Kardamom

Indian Frankincense & Cardamom

This recipe is an evolution of the simple Indian Frankincense & Cardamom recipe and the version I sent to Steve Pereira (Incense in The Wind) during our incense exchange. Here is his review.

While the simple recipe only uses cassia as a binder, I wanted a version that is more refined, sophisticated, and delicate. One of the first steps in this direction was to replace some of the cinnamon with laha. The ground powder of a bark (Lidsea glutinosa) is both a base and a binder, but unlike cassia, it has the rare quality of being practically odourless. In a balanced recipe, it is “invisible.”
Additionally, I slightly reduced the amount of frankincense and added a few other aromatic ingredients.
A list of suppliers can be found as always at the end of the article.

For details on the tools and materials required, please see my article:

In the recipes published here, I primarily want to focus on their specific features and explain how and why I composed them the way they are.
I assume a basic knowledge of incense stick making. Steps that are the same for every recipe, such as grinding and sifting, will not be described every time.

(20-y/o trees, Indonesia)
Agarwood (Aquilaria
malaccensis, Indonesia)
Cassia powder3.5g
Boswellia serrata5g
Siam benzoin0.4g
Honeydew honey1 drop
Distilled water~ 10ml
Total of dry ingredients13.3g
Resin content40.6%
Binder content41.6%

Note: These recipes are my intellectual property.
I allow private use, but I prohibit commercial use and distribution.

Most of the ingredients used here are bought finely ground. Sandalwood is often coarsely ground and needs to be sifted. The coarser portion can be used for Neri-Koh or loose mixtures.
You can experiment with the proportions of sandalwood and agarwood. The agarwood used here is of lower quality, but is finely ground. Its scent fully develops when burned: dark, warm, tart-woody, and slightly reminiscent of cigars. I added it to give the composition more depth.

As with the simpler recipe, I grind the cardamom with its shell, which yields a finer result and does not detract from the aroma.
Small amounts of resin, like benzoin in this case, I grind in a ceramic mortar, while frankincense goes into the electric coffee grinder. This works well, but ensure the grinder does not overheat, so use short grinding pulses. Adding some of the dry ingredients like sandalwood or cinnamon to the partially ground resin in the grinder can result in a finer output and often makes it easier to sift. The downside is it affects the accuracy of the measurements if some remains in the grinder.

Unlike the initial cassia-based recipes, I do not pre-mix and soak the binder. Instead, I mix all the ingredients and then gradually add water, stirring and kneading the dough, monitoring the consistency.
Add the honey at this stage. I measure it by dipping a toothpick about a quarter into the honey; the adhering drop is the amount used.
The dough has the right consistency when it no longer breaks or cracks when folded and kneaded. I let it rest for at least an hour in the fridge, formed into a ball and placed in a small screw-top jar.
After taking it out, I knead it briefly again and decide if a bit more water is needed.

I extrude these incense sticks using the finest nozzle I have, about 1mm. The high resin content provides good stability and allows the sticks to burn slowly despite their thinness, with moderate smoke development. At about 17cm in length, this batch burned for over 40 minutes.
Keep in mind that the sticks shrink while drying; the fresh “dough noodles” were about 19cm long.

The binder percentage listed is fairly high because I count cassia to the binder, although it primarily serves as an aromatic ingredient in this recipe. The Laha content is only 15%.
If considering replacing cassia with Ceylon cinnamon, you may need to use more Laha.

Thicker extruded sticks may not burn reliably. To address this, you can reduce the amount of frankincense, increase the wood content, or add a small amount (max. 4% of the total weight) of activated charcoal.

If you use this recipe for inspiration, I would be delighted to receive feedback with criticism and your experiences.

Sources of Supply:

  • The Laha I currently use comes from Jarguna (Etsy), but Jeomra’s Räucherwelt also sells it as Joss / JigatLitsea glutinosa has many names.
  • Agarwood is also sourced from Jarguna, as does the Indonesian sandalwood. Similar quality sandalwood is available from Jeomra as well.
  • I buy ground cassia from the Gewürzmanufaktur Zimtstangl & Muskatblüte, a lovely family business. I also buy cardamom pods from them (and all my kitchen spices).
  • The Indian frankincense Boswellia serrata comes from Apothecary’s Garden (Etsy), but it is a very common type of frankincense that can be found in most shops for loose incense, as is the case with Siam benzoin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *