Grains of Paradise, Aframomum melegueta, is a member of the Zingiberaceae family (also known as the ginger family) and is closely related to ginger, galangal, turmeric and cardamom.
Grains of Paradise is native to Africa’s West coast, namely the countries Ghana, Liberia, Togo and Nigeria with most imports coming out of Ghana. Long used in Middle Eastern, North and West African cuisines, this spice is once again gaining in popularity throughout other regions of the world. These pyramid-shaped whole seeds are reddish brown and turn to a dull Grey when ground.
Grains of Paradise is used as a substitute for those who are looking for something similar, but more flavorful than black pepper. Grains of Paradise with its aromatic fragrance and spicy heat (but certainly not chile pepper hot) brings food to life in a way that black pepper never does.
Contains .5% to 1% essential oil, mostly humulene and caryophyllene. The mild pungent aroma is due to paradol, shogoal and gingerol.
Grains of Paradise is also called Jouz as-Sudan, Jouz ash-sharq, Jouz al-Sudan, Gawz al-Sudan, Gawz al-shark, Jawz as-Sirk, Tin al-Fil (Arabic), Tian guo gu li (Mandarin), Graines de paradis, Malaguette, Poivre de Guinée, Maniguette (French), Paradieskörner, Guineapfeffer, Meleguetapfeffer, Malagettapfeffer (German), Sementes-do-paraíso, Grãos-do-paraíso, Pimenta Guiné (Portuguese), Rajskie zyorna, Rajskie zerna, Malagvet (Russian) and Malagueta or Pimienta de malagueta (Spanish).
Grains of Paradise is also known as alligator pepper, melegueta pepper (not to be confused with Brazilian Malagueta pepper which is actually a member of the Capsicum family), Guinea pepper, ginny pepper and Roman pepper.