If your spice rack is in a rut, try adding Grains of Paradise into the mix. These tiny seeds pack a punch that will titillate your taste buds with exotic flavor. Grains of Paradise are small seeds that grow in the wilds of West Africa. The name derives from the legend of medieval spice traders who, in an attempt to charge a larger fee, claimed that the grains were grown only in the Garden of Eden. The story seemed far-fetched to us…until we popped a seed in our mouth. The heat of black pepper is prominent, but the intense taste of cardamom and citrus is even more intense.
The exotic nuances of Grains of Paradise make it a prime candidate for Moroccan spice mixes like Ras al Hanout and West and North African dishes. The seed is also used to flavor some beers, like Sam Adams Summer Ale, and even aquavit.
Grains of Paradise can be found at specialty grocery stores, like Whole Foods, and from several online retailers like The Spice House.
• Find them: Grains of Paradise, $9.48 to $29.99 at The Spice House
Do you ever cook with Grains of Paradise? What do you put them in?
Andrea Christine Bearce is a freelance writer and former executive pastry chef based in Austin, Texas. She has a degree in Classic Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City.
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(Image: The Spice House)