Selim pepper is the fruit of an aromatic plant native to Africa, especially western Africa (despite the scientific name of the plant would suggest otherwise), it doesn't have much to do with pepper neither botanically nor as organoleptic characteristics.

Selim's pepper the plant

Selim pepper known by other names such as Senegal pepper, Mohren pepper, Kili is the fruit of a plant of the Annonaceae family called Xylopia aethiopica. It is a tree that grows to a height of between 12 and 20 meters, the oblong leaves grow alternately, the greenish-white flowers grow in groups. The exact name of the pods that contain the seeds is aril, that is, the shell that develops from a seed and wraps it in whole or in part and grows with it.

Selim pepper origin and distribution

As anticipated at the beginning, even if the scientific name seems to place the origin of the plant in East Africa, in reality it is currently mainly widespread on the other side and in particular in the rainforests of plain of Senegal and Togo (but it is found throughout Equatorial Africa). Although therefore preferring humid environments and regions near the banks of waterways, it can also be found in arid areas of the savannah, in fact it is a pioneer species (it means that in situations of an environment that has been upset, as after a fire, it is one of the first plants to colonize the area).

Selim pepper characteristics

Not very spicy, but pungent , aromatic with hint of nutmeg a, sometimes also with notes smoked , depends on the drying of the pod. The peculiarity of Selim pepper is that the spiciness is all concentrated in the seeds, while the aroma comes from the pod. We have said that botanically it is not related to black pepper but it has one thing in common, in traditional African medicine, Selim pepper is attributed with properties similar to those attributed to pepper in the East: anti-inflammatory (against asthma and bronchitis) , anti-dysentery, etc. Instead, science has identified possible antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties of an extract from the plant that would contain an acid that has been given the name of xylopic acid.

Using Selim's pepper in the kitchen

In the West it is still a rarity but in the countries of origin it is widely used, it is added in stews, but also in tea together with ginger and cloves (in this way it is used in Cameroon) and in coffee (especially in Senegal). Given what we have said about the spiciness concentrated in the seeds and the aroma in the pod, it is possible to open the pods and crush them separately, so that you can dose the two aspects as you like. Another trick is to prefer crushing to grinding or even using whole pods, in this case it can be useful due to the fact that the pod also tends to be bitter, so much so that the term derived from the Greek Xylopia means wood. bitter, in this way the pods must be removed before serving the dish.

Meat stew with Selim pepper


  • Veal for stew 600gr
  • Peeled tomatoes 250 gr
  • Red wine 1 glass
  • Carrots 2
  • Onion 1
  • Extra virgin olive oil 4 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • Selim pepper 2 berries
  • Cloves 3


1) Put 4 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and add the diced onion and sliced ​​carrots.

2) Fry for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

3) Add the meat cut into cubes and brown it for about 5 minutes.

4) Pour the red wine and add the spices, that is the cloves and the Selim pepper.

5) Boil for about ten minutes and then pour in the peeled tomatoes.

6) Season with salt, lower the heat and simmer for at least an hour.

7) Remove the spices and serve accompanying the stew with potatoes, mashed potatoes or fresh salad.

Recipe source:


Data sheet


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