Spices Of Kerala

Kerla Hotel

A look at Kerala Spices

History of Spices in kerala

The story of Kerala's spices dates back to many thousands of years into the past. Kerala is famous in the world due to total monopoly over spices. The ancient port of Musiris was the centre of the spice trade years ago. Vasco Da Gama's arrival was just the culmination of the western world's rush to find the sea route to the West Indies and its spices trade. Within the last decade the international trade in spices has grown to an estimated 500,000 ton of spices and herbs valued at more than 1500 million US dollars. It is a matter of pride for the tiny state of Kerala that the bulk of this trade is still from Kerala. Some spices that have made Kerala a spice state are as follows:

Pepper

The pepper is rightly known as the 'King Of Spices' and is one of the best known spices in the world. Kerala is the major producer and exporter of this most exotic spice. Pepper is one of the earliest and one of the most widely used spice in the world today. Kerala's pepper reached Europe through Arab traders who held a monopoly over its trade. Europe in the middle ages saw the enormous potential of pepper as a food preservative and eagerly sought to control its trade. The pepper is the finest in quality and is grown along the lowlands and high ranges of Kerala. It requires 20 to 30 degree Celsius temperature and is propagated by stem cutting.

Cardamom

Cardamom is one of the most highly prized spices. The best known cardamom variety is from India. It is obtained from a ginger-like plant, Elettaria cardamomum. Cardamom belongs to the ginger family and is the most expensive spice in the world after saffron and vanilla. It is known in India as Queen of Spices. It's history is as old as human civilization. Cardamom use spread to Europe more than a thousand years ago. The Vikings introduced it to Scandinavia, and Europe has been hooked ever since. Cardamom is the dried fruit of a herbaceous perennial and mainly grown in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, on the slopes of the Western Ghats, at an altitude of 1500 m above sea level. Warm humid climate, loamy soil rich in organic matter,

Vanilla

Natural vanillin is obtained from the cured pods (fruits) of the vanilla plant Vanilla planifolia. Vanilla is a perennial climbing orchid with sessile leaves and succulent green stems, producing aerial roots (velamen roots) at the nodes. Vanilla is a native of Mexico and was introduced in India in 1835. In India, parts of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, north eastern region and Andaman and Nicobar islands are suitable for vanilla cultivation. Karnataka has the largest area under vanilla in the country. There are three important cultivated species of vanilla namely, Vanilla planifolia, V.Pompona, and V.Tahitensis. Vanilla is adapted to a wide range of soil types rich in humus and have good drainage. It thrives well in humid tropical climate with an annual rainfall of 1500-3000 mm at 1500 m above sea level. A warm humid climate, with temperature ranging from 21 to 32 Degree Celsius is ideal for the plant. Vanilla grows best in unclear jungle areas where it

Clove

Clove is a small, reddish-brown flower bud of the tropical evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum (Eugenia caryophyllata) of the Myrtaceae family. The cloves were very important in the earliest spice trade. Clove was first introduced to India around 1800 AD by the East India company in its 'spice garden' in Courtallam, Tamil Nadu. Induced by the success of its introduction, cultivation of clove was extended during the period after 1850 AD to Nilgiris, southern region of the erstwhile Travancore state and the slopes of Western Ghats. The important clove growing districts in India are Nilgiris, Tiruneiveli, Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu, Kozhikode, Kottayam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts of Kerala and South Kanara district of Karnataka. Cloves vary in length from about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (13 to 19 mm

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is the dried inner stem bark of Cinnamomum Verum tree. This bushy evergreen tree is about 10-15 m tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae. It is widely grown in Kerala and other tropical regions of the world including Sri Lanka. The bark is widely used as a spice. The leaves are ovate-oblong in shape, 7-18 cm long. They are leathery and shining green on upper surface when mature. The flowers have a greenish color and a rather disagreeable odour. The fruit is a dark purple seeded berry containing a single seed. The spice is light brown in color and has a delicately fragrant aroma and warm, sweet flavor. It is lighter in color and milder in flavor than the other

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is the seed of Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree. Interestingly, the tree produces both Nutmeg and mace, and grows up to 60 feet tall. Although the tree takes seven years to bear fruit, it may produce until the 90th year. Both spices come from the tree’s fruit, which splits into a scarlet outer membrane, mace, and an inner brown seed,

Ginger

Ginger root is used extensively as a spice in many cuisines of the world. The active constituent of fresh ginger is gingerol. When ginger is dried, the gingerol molecules are converted into the much more pungent shogaols. Cooking ginger transforms gingerol into zingerone, which is less pungent and has a spicy-sweet aroma. The ginger is often pickled in vinegar or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice to cover up other strong odours and flavors such as in seafood and mutton. Ginger is also used as a flavor in candy, cookies, cookies, biscuits and cake, and is the main flavor in ginger

Turmeric

Turmeric is botanically known as Curcuma longa, derived from the old Arabic name for the kurkum plant. This spice is a member of the ginger family. Like ginger, it is the root of the turmeric plant that is used as a spice, usually in a dried form. The root is generally peeled to expose its bright yellow flesh, then boiled, dried, and ground into a powder. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron. Turmeric is extremely pungent, and actually gets stronger when cooked. Turmeric gives ball-park yellow mustard bright color. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly when experimenting. Avoid touching your clothing when working with turmeric as it is a powerful yellow dye. It is an

Tamarind

Tamarind is also known as Indian date. Tamarind is the sweet and sour fruit of a tall shade tree native to Asia and northern Africa and widely grown in India. The tamarind trees flourishes in the tropical regions. The tree grows up to 20 meters in height, and stays evergreen in regions without a dry season. Tamarind timber consists of hard, dark red heartwood and softer, yellowish sapwood. The leaves consist of 10 to 40 leaflets. The flowers are produced in racemes. The tree produces brown pod-like fruits, which contain pulp and many hard-coated seeds.

Curry Leaves

The leaves of curry leaf tree is a spice. The curry tree is five meter in height, 15-40 cm in diameter. It is cultivated mainly in homesteads but to a certain extent on a plantation scale. The curry leaf tree is a fast-growing shrub with deep roots and scented leaves and is an important ingredient in curries in South India, Sri Lanka and North India. Together with various South Indian dishes, curry leaves have also reached outside the India. Fresh curry leaves are oval in shape and about 1 inch in length. The curry leaves have a pungent and bitter smell much like the leaves of a citrus tree. The curry leaf is mainly a culinary plant and cultivated for its aromatic leaves and as an ornamental plant throughout South India.