Grains of Paradise come from a perennial plant with distinctive, purple trumpet - shaped flowers that originates in West Africa. Other names for Grains of Paradise are Melegueta Pepper, Guinea Pepper and Alligator Pepper. The seeds of this plant are used for this unique cooking ingredient. Grains of Paradise were originally introduced to Italy and then to the rest of Europe in the 13th century by caravan routes that travelled through the Sahara desert. They were considered a very popular, inexpensive substitute for Black Pepper in the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe.
Grains of Paradise are typically used extensively West African and North African cuisine. Recently Grains of Paradise have gained in popularity in the Western World especially in the United States. Both professional chefs and home cooks alike are embracing Grains of Paradise as a more sophisticated substitute for Black Pepper. Grains of Paradise have a full flavored, powerful peppery, citrus-like taste with traces of Cardamom and Ginger. They are used in the process of brewing beer. Grains of Paradise are appropriate to use both during cooking and at the table as an enhancement to any dish you would add Black Pepper. They are excellent when used with chicken, lamb, rice, vegetables and soups & stews to add a dramatic twist to these dishes.