Given it’s name for it’s high worth during the days of the spice trade Grains of Paradise carry a hint of citrus in the aroma and a strong taste of ginger and cardamom. The brown seeds are spicy and somewhat bitter. Paradise in this definition is the West Coast of Africa where locals use it as a flavoring and are known to chew on the nubby bits to keep themselves warm.
The reddish-brown seeds grow in large pods and when harvested are the same size and shape as its close cousin, cardamom.
Known as poivre de Guinee, Malguita Pepper and Alligator Pepper in France it has been around since the Middle Ages where it was used in a mulled wine known as hippocras flavored with ginger and cinnamon. Over time Grains of Paradise were replaced in Europe with black pepper. Too bad it’s so much more complex — sprinkled on potatoes or eggplant it shines.