Ever been out in the woods on a zippy autumn day or a blazing hot afternoon, when the spicy scents of the forest come out to flirt with your sense of smell? Now try imagining that same taste in your mouth, but with a sudden bolt of hot sizzle rolling around on your tongue, leaving an almost floral/citrusy aftertaste.

That would be a light description of Grains Of Paradise, a West African spice that’s part of the Ginger family. On a lark, I popped one of these tiny little pods in my mouth and got the explosion of a peppery taste coupled with notes of an almost floral flavor, though some people mention they sense a citrus taste.

Either way, I loved this spice, and I’d never heard of it until we added it to our spice collection in the shoppe. So the big question is: How do you use it? ¬†Well, first of all, you’ll need either a mortar and pestle to grind and crack open the seeds, which releases the full flavor; or investing in a small spice grinder is also a good idea.

Once you crack these pods open, you can use it in place of black pepper, add them to your steaks, potato salads, and even use it in your cobblers when you’re baking. The heat releases the flavors of Cardamom and Ginger, making your dishes fairly dance in your mouth.

Don’t let the step of crushing the seeds before using deter you. It’s not that hard; it’s quite simple to do. And like most spices, Grains Of Paradise is easy to use in your hot dishes you prepare. At Stardust Tea and Spice, we carry this spice, along with some spice grinders and mortars and pestles. So you’ll have everything you need to spice up your next meal.