Grains of Paradise
Grains of Paradise are peppery seeds native to West Africa that are an important ingredient in the spice blend ras el hanout. The pods are harvested in Ghana between February and June as each changes color from green to red, indicating the seeds have fully developed their flavor. Only then are they dried in the sun. The seeds are often ground and added at the end of cooking, imparting their cardamom-like, slightly bitter, peppery flavor.
Berbere, the East African spice blend that is an important component of Ethiopian cuisine (a key ingredient in the classic chicken dish doro wat), is an earthy mix of fresh-ground spices – the most important of which are chillies and fenugreek. Each cook’s blend varies according to taste and is used to spice meats or stir into curries. Our version is mild and aromatic with allspice, chilli flakes, cloves, coriander, fenugreek, ginger, black pepper and salt.
Harissa, from the Arabic for “break into pieces,” is a heady, brick-red North African hot sauce, traditionally made by pounding chilies in a mortar. Dried chilies are soaked, then pounded with garlic, caraway and coriander seeds and mixed with oil. Our nuanced version is a dry spice mix with medium heat to which spearmint is added for a refreshing finish. Add extra virgin olive oil for a paste or use as a rub or garnish.