Grains of Paradise are a hard to find spice that comes from a leafy plant native to the West African coast. The seeds are brown with a bit of a sheen, resembling satin, and are often used as a substitute for black pepper. Before they were given the name “Grains of Paradise” the seeds were known as alligator pepper or African pepper.
The flavor profile of Grains of Paradise is much more interesting than standard pepper. Despite it being a common pepper substitute, the two spices are almost incomparable. The aroma is potent but not overpowering, and is reminiscent of a forest after a summer shower. The initial flavor is warm and peppery, followed by a slightly more herbal and citrusy note. Finally, it’s nutty, woodsy qualities take over. The finish resembles cinnamon and cloves, but with a robust and satisfying heat. The heat lingers without creating a burning sensation or any harshness.
Grains of Paradise will add rich, gourmet flavor to steaks, lamb, and fish. The seeds can even be cracked over fruit, vegetable, and lentil dishes to add unique depth. Try using them in your peppermill, either alone of mixed with tellicherry peppercorns.