Spices in Kerala
Ever since the history of Kerala has been down in writing, it has never been without a mention of its spices. Dating back to thousands of years in the past, Kerala’s fame throughout the world for its spices has given it veritable monopoly over the market. In particular, Musri, an ancient Keralite port, became the foundation of the world’s spice trade ages ago, and it is often said that the entire Western colonization in India as well as the spice trade stemming from the arrival of Vasco da Gama was all an attempt to just control Kerala’s spices. In fact, in the past decade, over 500,000 tonnes of spices from Kerala have been exported internationally, along with herbs that stand at an estimated value of 1500 million USD. Here are some of the spices in Kerala that have added to its fame!
This famous spice from Kerala is much sought-after the world over, and is renowned under the banner of being the ‘King of Spices’. Used today all over the world, pepper owes its wide perversion to Arab traders, although it was probably one of the earliest known spices. When pepper reached Europe, its potential as a food preservative and its medicinal properties were seen and much effort was put into attempts to monopolize control over its trade. Black Pepper Extract
This is perhaps one of the world’s most prized spices and is as old as the human civilization is. Cardamom is commonly referred to as the ‘Queen of Spices’ and you will find some of the world’s best varieties of this spice all over Kerala. Walking through the fields will give you a heady aroma that will stay with you for a lifetime.
This essential contributor to the early spice trade is said to have its origins in the Indonesian Spice Islands, but is also found in the Trivandrum, Kottayam, Kollam and Kozhikode districts of Kerala. It was introduced into India by the East India Company in 1800 AD, and although Tamil Nadu saw its first cultivation, Kerala is not far behind. Apart from its properties as a flavoring agent, cloves are also renowned for their anesthetic properties, especially in the case of toothaches. Clove Spice Extract
You will find cinnamon in almost every tasty Kerala dish, and this popular spice with its origins in Sri Lanka is very extensively grown throughout the districts of Kerala. While it is relatively milder in flavor in comparison to other spices, cinnamon is used a lot for its medicinal properties and antioxidant activity, apart from its flavor.
Although ginger is a root, it can be categorized as a spice, and a very important one at that! Used in a number of cuisines around the world, ginger is widely grown in Kerala. Ginger Root Extract is especially popular in baking as well as in fresh juices and pickles.
This well-known spice is a great body cleanser, externally and internally, apart from adding amazing flavor to dishes. The flower, commonly referred to as saffron, is rather rare and expensive. The root of the turmeric plant, though, is what is often used in dishes and is the core of many Asian and Middle-Eastern delicacies. Turmeric Spice Extract
Also known as the ‘Indian Date’, this sweet-sour fruit is used as a spice to flavor many Asian, Latin and North African dishes. Available aplenty in Kerala, it is used a lot in seafood dishes, snacks, desserts and refreshing drinks.
The seed of the Myristica Fragrans that also produces mace, is commonly referred to as nutmeg. Used a lot in baking, this spice adds aroma and flavor to sweet breads, muffins, cakes and pies, or whatever may come off the oven. Nutmeg Spice Extract also has medicinal properties and works as a mild sedative.
These highly aromatic leaves are used extensively in Kerala cuisine, and indeed the whole of South India. Curry leaves may be considered to be a spice or a herb and can be grown in homes apart from in entire plantations as well.
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