Grains of Selim are the seeds of a shrubby tree (Xylopia aethiopica), found in Africa.
This species is present in tropical Africa where it grows along rivers in arid savannah areas.
It is a fake pepper that is actually black berries contained in a long, thin, blackish and bumpy pod 3 to 5 cm long that looks like a bean
Grains of Selim are a sign of luck in North Africa.
In Tunisia, they are placed in homes to chase unhappiness. In some cultures of Africa, they are burned as incense to purify or unsettle houses and holy places.
One of the main uses of Selim is the making of the famous Touba coffee: it is a drink made of coffee flavoured diar.
Its name comes from the city of Touba, holy city for the murid brotherhood,
It has a remarkable perfume and flavors: already, all the taste and olfactory properties of this spice are in the fibrous pod and not in the seeds, which have almost no taste. On the nose, we smell first of all a resin of wood that evolves on a touch of coconut subtly musky and woody.
In the mouth, the attack is still resinous but fresh, with a fragrance reminiscent of both cubèbe, clove and eucalyptus leaf, then the flavor evolves in the end to a taste reminiscent of mace and nutmeg but always with a lot of freshness. Bits of ginger, turmeric and pepper are detected in the berries.
The entire spice is used and because of its very fibrous consistency, it is usually just crushed with mortar and pestle.
Its flavor is powerful and its use extends to all dishes, from starter to dessert.
In Africa it is used as we use black pepper. Crushed grains of Selim are used in marinades, dishes in sauces and simmered dishes.
Ground it can be added at the end of cooking.