Kerala prides itself in being the hub of spice trade in India and maintained this distinction for thousands of years now. History suggests that the ancient Muziris port in Kerala attracted traders from all over the world for spice trade centuries ago. The desire to control the spice trade from Kerala could also be termed as one of the primary reasons for the western colonization in India. Kerala continues to be a major contributor to the international spice trade over the last decade and the volume of spice trade from Kerala stands at a remarkable 500,000 tons prized at nearly $1500 million. However if you are planning to visit best tourist spots in Kerala, here is a guide on some of the popular spices that you can take back home.
Ginger is one of the earliest spices and is native to India. It is a flavouring from tuberous root, which is often dried and under the ground. Ginger is usually dried and cleaned to give the natural white colour.
Flavor : Fiery and Pungent
Part Used : Rhizome
Use : Oriental Cookery, Curry Powder, Confectionery, Wine & Tea
Medicinal value : Taken at the first sign of cold of flu, hot ginger tea makes a comforting drink and help to clear the blocked nose. This is perfect against respiratory and digestive infections .
Turmeric is an ancient spice cultivated primarily in India. It comes from fingers extended from the root and has tough brown skin and bright orange flesh and is usually boiled or steamed and then dried to give natural yellow colour.
Flavor : Warm and aromatic with bitter undertone
Part Used : Rhizome
Use : Traditional Curries, pickles, relishes and as a culinary dye
Medicinal value : Mild Digestive, stimulant carminative and antiseptic.
Star Anise is the fruit of a small oriental tree with touch skin and rust colour. The stars are available whole, or ground to a red brown powder and the fruit is dried and then graded.
Flavor : power and liquorice with strong and pungent smell
Part Used : Fruit
Use : Chinese Cooking , Sweet meats and confectionary
Medicinal value : Relives flatulence and used to combat colic and rheumatism and is a common flavouring for medicinal tea.
Cambodge or Kudampuli is dark purple to black and sticky with curled edges. Cambodge is largely grown in the coastal areas of Kerala and the fruit is halved , dried and cleaned for processing.
Flavor : Sour Taste, Slightly Astringent
Part Used : Rind
Use : Used to enhance coconut based curries and fish curry
Medicinal value : Refrigerant properties, Skin Ailments and ailing Cholestrol
Black pepper is the “king of Spices” and is the most popular spice which is indigenous to india and cultivated mostly in Kerala.Black Pepper is the world’s favourite spice, historically known as “Black Gold” thanks to the Roman’s obsession with them as both an ingredient and as a form of commodity money.
Flavor : Pungent and Fiery
Part Used : Fruit
Use : Widely used in food, soups, beverages and medicines
Medicinal value : Stimulates digestion, relives constipation and improves blood circulation
Cardamom is largely grown in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and is known as the “Queen of Spices”. It is available in Alleppey Green Extra Bold (AGEB), Alleppey Green Bold (AGB) and Alleppey Green Superior (AGS) andis widely used to provide a rich flavor to food preparations across the world . It is a major ingredient for perfumes, health foods, medicines and beverages. The unique flavor of Kerala’s cardamom finds great demand in Middle East, Russia and Japan.
Flavor : Warm, Eucalyptine and lemony undertone.
Part Used : Fruit & Seed
Use : Widely used in food, soups, beverages and liquor
Medicinal value : Relives indigestion and used in Ayurveda treatments and is a natural mouth fresher.
Cloves is the oldest spice known to the world and it takes nearly 7-8 years for flower buds to appear on the clove tree after it has been planted. Once the unopened flower buds change their color from green to pink, they are plucked and left to dry for 4-5 days until their color turns crisp and dark brown.
Flavor : Sweet Pungent & Strongly Aromatic.
Part Used : Flower Buds
Use : Widely used in perfumes, cosmetics and toiletries
Medicinal value : Used to ease tooth ache and has antiseptic and antibiotic values.
Cinnamon or Cassia is the dried bark of the tropical evergreen tree and is widely used to give a special rich flavor to the dishes. The plant is harvested in May and November every year, after about 3 years of planting. The bark of the plant shoots is split up when the crop is harvested and is then allowed to dry for about 2-5 days. The dry bark is then packed in the form of bundles and readied for trade while its leaves and twigs are used for oil extraction.
Flavor : Warm & Aromatic.
Part Used : Bark
Use : Flavour for both sweet and savoring food, confections and curries.
Medicinal value : Widely used for indigestion and as a nasal decongestant.
Nutmeg is the seed encased in mottled yellow, edible fruit which is cultivated largely in central Kerala.The moist tropical weather of the state is perfect for the growth of this plant that needs to be pollinated by a male tree nearby. Though the tree is ready for commercial use only after 10 years of planting, its fruits start developing by the fifth or sixth year itself. Nutmeg’s seed and its reddish fiber are vital ingredients for a number of medicines.
Flavor : Nutty, Warm & slightly sweet.
Part Used : Seed
Use : Used in sweet and spicy dishes.
Medicinal value : Reduces flatulence, aid digestion , improves appetite and treats diarrhea and vomiting.
Mace and nut meg comes from the same tree and mace is the lacy covering of the nutmeg seed shell.
Flavor : Warm , Sharp & slightly sweeter than nutmeg.
Part Used : Aril
Use : Used in baked foods, sweet and spicy dishes.
Medicinal value : Alleviates Nausea and vomitting