Melegueta pepper, or grains of paradise, originates from the Ivory Coast and Ethiopia.
This spice was used instead of pepper in the Middle Ages because it was a lot cheaper and added a touch of spice to dishes without much taste at big banquets. It can also be called ‘Guinea pepper’. This spice is not as well known nowadays, but it’s well worth discovering.
Melegueta is the seed of a tree in the Zingiberaceae family, along with ginger and cardamom.
The plant grows in the undergrowth and produces a brown pod that encloses the seeds. The pods are harvested when ripe, then dried in the sun to release the seeds.
Melegueta has a spicier taste than a true pepper, but with a sour flavour similar to ginger and cardamom.