Grains of Paradise

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Grains of paradise, guinea grains, alligator pepper, and melegueta pepper are all names for the small seeds of Aframomum melegueta. This member of the ginger family is a native of West Africa, and was used in Europe from the Middle Ages until the 19th century, when it became a rarity. It’s both some-what pungent from gingerol and relatives (paradols, shogaols), and faintly but pleasantly aromatic, with woody and evergreen notes (humulone and caryophyllene). It is a component of the Moroccan spice mixture ras el hanout, and can serve as an interesting alternative to black pepper.