Everyday of my life since I started working in kitchens I usually get the same questions. What do you like to cook? Or something like that. My favorites are usually the ones that make me think. I’ll let you guess what question I’m going to answer with today.

One of the reasons why I love making dry rubs and spice blends is the incredibly dynamic and complex nature of the simple things. Toasting cumin seeds before tossing them for a dance in a coffee grinder can be just as rewarding as roasting off whole nutmeg before putting it in a food processor. The end result is a always a treat and a seed never buried. Much like seeds every idea must have it’s start.

Aridan Fruit or as it’s more commonly known Tetrapleura Tetraptera is a plant in the pea family native to West Africa. It’s typically used as a spice, a medicine or some form of dietary supplement. I remember tagging along with my father as he would head over to the import store down the street from the old State building now Police building on the boulevard. I would see these things and would never have dreamed that I’d be using them today as a conduit for potions of flavor and elixirs of taste.

The Aridan Fruit hangs on stout stalks at the edges of their branches and they are characteristically brownish in color. Brown and food don’t really mix and we all know brown only looks good as a skin tone. Aridan usually measures about 15 to 25 cm long and is distinguished by its 4 longitudinal ridges that are slightly curved. Looks just like a very long starfruit that got old and lost a leg and although the fruit is used as a spice in preparing many staple dishes like pepper soup (See For the Upcoming Polar Vortex), banga soup, nsala, it is more than just a spice as it has been seen useful in both preventive and curative medicine,

I’ll name a few benefits but before I do that let me be the 1st one to say I try to be as natural as possible but if the medicine works I’m not going to not take it.

The presence of glycoside and tannins in ethanolic and water extracts of aridan have been proven effective for inhibiting growth of bacteria. Tannins are very common in wine aged charred oak barrels and are usually responsible for that nostalgic bitterness of your 1st glass.

The significant amounts of vitamins such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc boost immune systems. Growing up, I’d catch a cough.

Studies have also shown that it’s an excellent remedy for stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting and anything else gastrointestinal. This is due to its constituents of phytochemicals. Nicotine is a phytochemical. I’m not a smoker and not all phytochemicals are bad. This is one of the good ones.

Getting the most out of you herbs and spices begins with knowing the ins and outs of what your spices can do. Pepper and vinegar can be as versatile a duo as an herb infused oil drizzled over your favorite greens.

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