Grains of paradise is an unusual spice with a pungent flavor. Sometimes it's called alligator pepper or melegueta pepper, but it's not a pepper at all—it's related to cardamom. The flavor has lots of depth, says sinjawns. It "starts peppery, goes to lavender, then to heat," he says. "You can use it in lieu of pepper, but I would say to use it as a finisher rather than a cooking ingredient, and in smaller quantities."
How do you use it? In spice blends, to make a "pepper crust" for fish, to flavor beer, and even to amp up a Bloody Mary, says carswell. sinjawns says he has used it in, or on, "all manner of savory items (soups, casseroles, chicken, fish) and also in a very dense brownie."
Discuss: Grains of Paradise