Cubeb or tailed pepper (Piper cubeba) is a spice originating in Southeast Asia. It also bears the name of cubeche, embèbe, pepper tail, Java pepper or pepper Kissi.
The spice is obtained from the berries, harvested before maturity, dried and ground. From the same family as pepper, its taste is generally stronger.
Its use is common in curry powders.
Cubeb is a pepper characteristic of Indonesian cuisine, it is also one of the components of Maghreb seasoning's.
It has a warm aroma, evoking turpentine; it is also slightly bitter and pungent. It is closer to Jamaican pepper than black pepper. Wild in Indonesia, it is produced in Java, Sri Lanka. Sometimes grown in association with coffee, but for the most part, it is still picked in the wild.
Cubeb came to Europe via India through the trade with the Arabs.
The name "cubeb" comes from Arabic “kabāba”.
In the fourth century BC, Theophrastus mentioned "komakon", including it with cinnamon and cassia as an ingredient in aromatic confections.
Guillaume Budé and Claudius Salmasius have identified komakon with cubeb, probably due to the resemblance which the word bears to the Javanese name of cubeb, “kumukus”.
In Europe, cubeb was one of the valuable spices during the middle Ages.
It was ground as a seasoning for meat or used in sauces.
A medieval recipe includes cubeb in making "sauce sarcenes", which consists of almond milk and several spices. As an aromatic confectionery, cubeb was often candied and eaten whole.
Ocet Kubebowy, a vinegar infused with cubeb, cumin and garlic, was used for meat marinades in Poland during the 14th century.
Cubeb can still be used to enhance the flavor of savory soups.
Cubeb reached Africa by way of the Arabs.
In Moroccan cuisine, cubeb is used in savory dishes and in pastries like markouts, little diamonds of semolina with honey and dates.
It also appears in the list of ingredients for the famed spice mixture “Ras el hanout”.
In Indonesian cuisine, especially in Indonesian gulés (curries), cubeb is frequently used.