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Guinea pepper

Aframomum melegueta
Aframomum melegueta
Did you know that… ?
  1. …grains of paradise have a peppery taste and were used as a substitute for real pepper when that was priced excessively high?
  2. …grains of paradise are used characteristic exclusively in western African cooking?
  3. …in western Africa, grains of paradise are used in herbal medicines to alleviate bloating, as well as for their stimulative and diuretic effects?
  4. …grains of paradise add a wonderful taste to mulled wine, simmered lamb and potatoes with eggplant?
  5. …grains of paradise are valued in western Africa and Morocco, where they are an ingredient in the spice mix called "ras al-hánút".
  6. …in the past, grains of paradise were used to spice wine and beer, and in the 17th century, were used in a favorite tonic drink?
  7. …a substitute for grains of paradise is a mixture of pepper with a bit of ginger?
  8. …grains of paradise consist of seeds of aframom, a ginger-like reed, which can grow up to two meters high?
Grains of paradise


½ kg mutton
1 dl oil
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground grains of paradise
12 dkg beans
3 cloves garlic
5 dkg tomato paste

Soak beans overnight and cook until partly tender. Cube meat and braise in oil, add salt, spices, coarsely chopped garlic and tomato paste, simmer about 5 minutes, adding water as needed. Add beans and simmer until tender.


Guinea pepper is so called because it is a native plant from the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa.  Other common names for this spice are Guinea grains, melegueta pepper, and grains of paradise. In the 14th and 15th centuries spice production was very important economically and these areas were called Grain shores or Melegueta shores. From there spices were carried across the Sahara desert and by boat to Europe from Tripoli. Later, Portuguese merchants carried spices directly to Europe from African shores.