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Cubeb/Tailed pepper

Piper cubeba
Piper cubeba
Did you know that… ?
  1. …cubeb tastes more like allspice than pepper?
  2. …cubeb is used in spice mixes like ras al-hánút, and in Indonesian cooking?
  3. …cubeb can be added to any food instead of allspice and is especially suited to meat and vegetable dishes?
  4. …cubeb has been used since antiquity as a medicine for its antiseptic properties and is an ingredient in remedies for breathing difficulties?
  5. …cubeb is often cultivated on coffee plantations in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, but the main source of cubeb is still gathering of plants that grow wild?
  6. …cubeb berries are picked green, then sun-dried until they turn a rich brown-black color?
  7. …due to its appearance, cubeb is sometimes called tailed pepper?
  8. …cubeb as a spice consists of dried whole or ground berries of the Piper cubeba plant?
Cubeb/Tailed pepper

Syrian lentil soup

500 g lentils
11/2 l water
2 onions
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon salt
60 g spinach
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cubeb

Brown chopped onion, add lentils and water and cook 1½ hours. Salt to taste, add chopped spinach and cook an additional 15 minutes. Flavor with cubeb.


Cubeb was used in ancient China as a medicine, and when Arab traders brought it to Western Europe, it became prized as a medicine there as well, only later as a spice. It was used until the end of the 17th century. Parkinson in his Theatrum Botanicum  in 1640 wrote that the sale of cubeb was forbidden by the Portuguese king, to prop up the trade in black pepper. In the 19th century, cubeb was practically unavailable. Today it is used by folk healers and herbalists. The herbalist John Parkinson described cubeb as "… small berries, somewhat sweet, no larger than pepper grains, but coarser and pitchy, and not so black or hard…and each has a small twig, like a tail." The British seafarer James Cook encountered cubeb in his trip through the South Pacific in the years 1768-1771. The plant, growing up to six meters tall was already established in Polynesia as a basis for a drink called kawi. Drinking a liquid prepared from the roots of the cubeb plant was part of complicated social rituals.