Product: Grains of Paradise
Latin Name: Aframomum melegueta
Plant Family: Zingiberaceae
Other Names: Melegueta Pepper, Alligator Pepper, Guinea Grains, Fam Wusa, Ataku, Guinea Pepper, Graines de Paradis, Malaguette, Poivre de Guinée, Paradieskörner, Guineapfeffer, Grani de Meleguetta, Grani Paradisi, Kinia-Saenggang, Grãos-do-Paraíso, Sha Ren & Pimienta de Malagueta.
Description: Grains of Paradise come from an herbaceous, perennial plant native to the West Africa, which grows to a height of 1.2 metres. The leaves are born on tall thin stems which resemble bamboo; they are oddly-pinnate and comprised of 9-15 alternate leaflets which lanceolate with a central vein, mid to dark green in colour and 30-45cm in length. The flowers are trumpet shaped pinkish-purple in colour and grow at the base of the plant, the flowers ripen into pods that are 5-7cm in length and when fully ripe contain many seeds inside which are approximately 30mm in diameter, oval and reddish-brown in colour.
Brief History: Grains of paradise were discovered by spice traders in West Africa in the 13th century and brought to Europe, where they were used as a seasoning before black pepper was brought to Europe. By the 15th century they were very popular with the Elizabethan’s who used them to season food when black pepper was either unavailable or too expensive, their peppery spiciness with a hint of ginger made them useful in sweet and savoury dishes.
Grains of paradise can be added to peppermills and used like black pepper; they are gentler in their effect than black peppercorns making them ideal for people whose digestion may be upset by black pepper. They are used in African cuisine and are an ingredient in the Moroccan seasoning Ras el Hanout. The crushed seed can be sprinkled on chicken and fish for a spicy peppery coating, sprinkle over vegetables and add to biscuit and cake recipes where you would use black pepper. Chewing the seeds can help to freshen the breath.
Shelf life of two years provided that goods are stored in an airtight container in ambient conditions.