Grains of Paradise is an exotic new flavor, grown on the shores of Western Africa. This intriguing spice is not common in many kitchens, but it is a very interesting spice for many uses. Here’s how to cook with grains of paradise:
- Understand what it tastes like. Grains of Paradise is compared to ginger, cardamom, and pepper. In fact, it is a relative of the ginger plant. This peppery spice can be used in many dishes where you would typically use ginger or cardamom. It can also be used in dishes that use cinnamon or black pepper.
- Learn about world cuisines. Grains of Paradise spices are used in traditional recipes in the Grain Coast, from Sierra Leone to Nigeria. It has also been used in Europe, Asia, and other world cuisines for centuries. It is especially popular in traditional European breads and cookies that use cardamom or black pepper. Coarsely cracked seeds of the Grains of Paradise spice can be sprinkled on top of crusty artisan-inspired breads. It can also be used in curried dishes, paella, and other cuisines from North Africa, the Middle East, Morocco, or Ethiopia.
- Improvise. Grains of Paradise is not likely to be listed in any recipe you might come across, unless you go searching for one. Instead, incorporate Grains of Paradise into the other recipes you make, especially those which use ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, or black pepper. Once you try the Grains of Paradise spice once or twice, you’ll learn what it tastes like and can judge whether it would work well in a specific dish.
- Use in gourmet food. Grains of Paradise is known as a gourmet spice, and should be used for special meals.
- Use in olive oil. A bowl of olive oil seasoned with Grains of Paradise, garlic, and fresh thyme can be used as a sauce with breads, or as a dipping bowl for anything you would traditionally dip in olive oil.
- Sprinkle freshly ground Grains of Paradise on beverages. Use it to spice up coffee to accompany a rich chocolate dessert. Add to warm winter beverages or eggnog. Add to tea along with a cinnamon stick and a slice of fresh ginger, along with a little honey to sweeten the tea.
Grains of Paradise is a relatively new spice in the United States, despite a long history in many global cuisines throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia. It is also known as Aframomum meleguetta, its botanical name. Because of its global use, it also has many local names, like Yoruba, hausa, and wisa. Its peppery taste has also led to the names Guinea pepper, alligator pepper, and meleguetta pepper. Grains of Paradise is surprisingly versatile; experiment to figure out how you like it.