I am quite often asked what some of the ingredients are in our range of Bims Kitchen sauces and one that often arises is “What is an Alligator Pepper”?
So after a bit of research here is one of the best answers.
Not a very common spice, and a member of the ginger family, alligator pepper, with the scientific name “Afromomium meleguata“ is also known as grains of paradise, hepper pepper or mbongo spice. It is a North African spice and is used in Africa not only in food preparation but also in cultural practices, as medicine and as an accompaniment to kola nut. But guess what, grains of paradise is a little different from it, they are so closely related that it is also called the same name, the difference with the two is that grains of paradise is sold as only seeds while alligator pepper is sold as an entire pod which contains the seed, apart from that the taste and characteristics are but the same.
As the name suggest, the fruit and the seeds have a texture and appearance like that of an alligators back. It has a hot spicy taste and aroma which is popularly used in West African soups and stews. A very expensive spice and should be used sparingly because of its strong flavour, it is a popular ingredient in the famous pepper pot soup which is a speciality and great delight in West Africa. Your grains of paradise can also be used to flavour vegetables and is a great accompaniment to pumpkins, okras and potatoes.And listen this, when a baby is born in Africa, more specifically the Yoruba culture, a small amount of the pepper is given to them to taste, this is done minutes after they are born. It is said to be a welcoming process for the baby. It is also used as a traditional wedding gift in the same Yoruba culture where it is a very important spice.