#BlackHistoryEats / Day 28 / Guinea Pepper

Source:  www.foodhistorjottings.blogspot.com

Source:  www.foodhistorjottings.blogspot.com


  • Guinea pepper is actually the popular name for several spices African spices: Grains of paradise -- or Malaguetta Pepper -- (Aframomum melegueta), West African Pepper or Ashanti pepper (Piper guineense) and Grains of Selim (Xylopia aethiopica) from Ethiopia
  • Of course there are TONS of other names, some of which are as follows: Kani Pepper, KImba Pepper, Moor Pepper, Negro Pepper, Senegal Pepper, spice tree, ossamo, Alligator Pepper, Afrika Kakulesi, Ginny Pepper, Greater Cardamom, Grani de Meleguetta, Granos de Guinea, Graine de Paradis, and countless others 
  • This name was given to them by spice traders in the middle ages who were trying to inflate the price. They claimed that these special peppers only grew in Eden, and that they were collected as the floated down the rivers out of paradise. Grains of Paradise are now hard to find and costly, but hundreds of years ago they were a cheaper substitute for black pepper. 
  • It is said that you can sprinkle some guinea pepper on someone's doorstep to cause a breakup (#messy!) or surround your home with it for protection 


  • Traditionally, there isn't such a clear distinction between plants as medicine vs plants as food. All types of guinea peppers have a rich herbal backstory and history and have been used by African people (and European, Arab and Asian people) for centuries 
  • Guinea peppers are rich in phytochemicals that have healing and preventative qualities. West African/Ashanti peppers are rich in beta-caryophyllene which is anti-inflammatory. Grains of Paradise is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as a diuretic and digestive aide and is exclusively used in Traditional African Medicine
  • Variations of guinea pepper are popularly used as a substitute for black pepper. Its flavor is a mix of flowers, cardamom and coriander (cilantro)
  • Historically in Europe and presently in Senegal, guinea peppers were used to flavor coffee and palm wine
  • Guinea pepper is often used for pickling and making stews; they are a common ingredient in Nigerian Pepper Soup (here is a vegan recipe by The Vegan Nigerians!)