Grains of Paradise

I’ve been remiss in putting this flavorful little spice into the Ingredients section.  Fixing that right now!

Grains of paradise look like small black pepper seeds.

Aframomum melegueta: Grains of Paradise

They taste like pepper with a floral bite.  Awesome!  I can not extol the amazing flavor of these enough.

So a little bit of history on our favorite spice.  This come from the ginger family (a very flavorful family it is!) The grains grow on a tall leafy plant.

Aframomum melegueta: Grain of Paradise plant

The seed pods are a really pretty red.  Very visible.

Grains of Paradise are known as Aframomum melegueta; also known as Alligator pepper and Guinea grains.  (There are other names but we’ll concentrate on the main ones first. Hailing from West Africa, Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria and southern Ethiopia.


One of the most unusual things I’ve found when doing my research on this is that I can not find any mention of this spice in any of my Middle Eastern cookbooks.  I’ve looked under the names Grana Paradisi, gargeri gan ha-eden, Malagueta, or Malagueta pepper.  I’ve looked under peppers and ginger in case I’ve missed an odd entry that read “Ginger of a different sort”.  No such luck.  This spice was definitly traded widely as it is found in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Greek dishes.  This makes me wonder if some recipes were translated with “Pepper” but should ready “Grains of Paradise Pepper” instead.

Just a bit of musing there.  Nothing I can put my finger on decisively other than this was a WIDELY traded spice so there should be no reason it’s not in the books…  Going to have to do some cooking to see what I taste.



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