All There Is To Know About The Alligator Pepper
What is the Alligator Pepper?
Alligator pepper is known by a couple of names in Nigeria, names often influenced by several ethnic groups who eat it, names such melegueta pepper, Guinea grains, ossame, or from wisa. Named for its alligator-like bark on the seed pods, the alligator pepper (Aframomum melegueta), is a native West African spice. It is one from the ginger/Zingiberaceae family. The pepper is one much familiar to most parts of West Africa, it grows in its season up to five feet. It is grown with purple flowers on the plant. The pepper itself grows out with the flowers into gray, wrinkled alligator bark-like pods that contain the small pepper seeds.
The spice isn’t without its own origin story, it is very similar and so often called the grain of paradise. Traders claim that the peppery seed only grew in Eden and had to be collected out of “paradise” as they floated out of the Eden River. The pepper has been around a long while and as such a good number of medical uses of it have been discovered, this article discusses the uses of the alligator pepper, its benefits and possible side effects.
What is alligator pepper used for?
Traditionally, the alligator pepper comes in handy in the preparations of several soups and dishes. It is often ground in a mortar and pestle into powder form, the pepper provides a spicy taste and a floral aroma much like the scent of jasmine and clove. It is mostly used alongside the black pepper, while some ground and bottle up the spice, others prefer it bought fresh and used at a go.
A dash of alligator pepper can also be used in baking. The pepper is an all-rounder and can be used in just about everything usually in small quantities. The alligator pepper is used in the preparation of dishes such as;
- Flavored soups
- Boiled rice
- Grilled steak
Alligator pepper can also be chewed alone. When harvested, the pods are opened to get seeds out usually by hitting them with a knife. The seeds when collected are spread out to sundry. They are sold once dry and in that form, it can be consumed or ground for spice and used in various dishes such as the ones already mentioned.
What are the benefits of The Alligator Pepper?
Though the alligator pepper isn’t to be used as a substitute for drugs and guided medication, its consumption is also advised for a number of medical benefits. The seed is packed with a number of nutrients that have been proven to help in curing several diseases. Here are the known benefits of the alligator pepper;
- It is used in preparing certain traditional concoctions which serve anti-fungal and anti-microbial purposes.
- It is used in treating wounds.
- The plant also serves as an ingredient for measles treatment.
- The alligator pepper prevents inflammation because contains anti-inflammatory properties.
- The leaves of the plant are also used traditionally as a malaria remedy.
- The alligator pepper contains a rich amount of nutrients such as Zinc, Calcium, and several minerals.
- It aids digestion and so prevents bloating or constipation
- The alligator pepper also contains aphrodisiac properties and so can help sexual stimulation.
- It can also be used in preparing herbal cures for skin infections.
What are the Side Effects of Alligator Pepper?
There is yet to be a medically proven side effect of consuming alligator pepper, it is only advised that the peppery seed is consumed in moderation and in the sensitive case of pregnant women particularly in their first trimester pregnancies and also breast feeding mothers, it is strongly advised that the pepper is avoided as much as one can manage.