Grains of Paradise are a complex, aromatic ingredient beloved across Africa, especially in Ethiopian and West African cuisines.
Use whole or grind into stews and sauces for a heat that’s reminiscent of black pepper but beautifully herbal, floral and citrusy.
- Add a pinch of whole grains to rice or grains to infuse with flavor.
- Grind the grains to add to banana bread or other sweet baked goods.
- Grind and blend with chili, turmeric, cumin and paprika for a homemade berbere.
Our grains of paradise are grown by a cooperative of farmers in Bench Maji in southern Ethiopia. Grain of paradise are an indigenous spice in the area, which is known for its rich, fertile soil that also supports lots of coffee farms. Bench Maji gets 9 months of rain every year!
The grains of paradise plants grow wild in the forest, and they produce a purple, trumpet-shaped flower whose pods hold the tiny grains of paradise seeds. The plants are tended by members of the farmers cooperative. Harvest time is when the pods look like big red cherries; after harvest, they are air-dried on beds outdoors. Once the pods are are dry, they're sorted and then broken open to separate the hard covering from the inner membranes and seeds. The seeds are then cleaned, dried and ready to be packed!
The air-drying process is important because it ensures that the grains of paradise maintain their original flavor, color and aroma. Commercial drying equipment is available, but our partners choose to dry in the open air because of the superior flavor and higher quality of the finished spice.