Kerala is a state in the southwestern part of India and it is one of the food lovers paradise. Its main cuisine offers a myriad of vegetarian as well as non vegetarian dishes using poultry, fish, red meat and various other condiments. However, the food is mainly known for its extensive use of spices. In fact, the different dishes prepared in this cuisine are known mainly for its spicy tastes with such ingredients as chilies, tamarind, mustard seeds, curry leaves and so on being very commonly used. However, the state’s ties with spices date back to very long back. It is known as the “Land of Spices” as it engaged in trading spices with many ancient civilizations including Europe. The oldest records of such trade go back to three thousand years with the Sumerians.
Thus, it may be understood that till date one of the greatest specialties of Kerala include its spices. Tourists and traders visiting the state still stocks up on such Kerala spices and spice trade is booming in the state currently. The spice routes to this state made spice into the great myth of Kerala. Even today it is possible to trace some of the best versions of certain spices to this Indian state. Some of the best quality spices of Kerala are discussed below.
It seems apt to start with pepper since this particular spice is commonly known as the “king of spices”. It is a very popular Kerala spice that is used in almost all dishes and food items. Moreover, it has great medicinal value. In fact, it was in search of pepper that the colonizers where lead through various roots to their later conquests and wars. Thus, pepper from this state may be considered to be one of the elements that was responsible in changing the history of an entire nation. The Europeans were the first to know about pepper through the trade routes established by the Arabs. With the discovery of this state’s potential in relation to pepper the Europeans began their trade here. A few of the most popular varieties of pepper include Arakkulam Munda, Balankotta, Kuthiravally, Panniyur-1, Kalluvally etc.
Cardamom has a history almost as old as the state of Kerala itself. Some of the key factors responsible for its popularity are discussed as given.
★ Cardamom has a very unique taste and flavor. Its aroma is very unique and makes it one of the most popular spices to be in demand around the world.
★ It is a famous aphrodisiac.
★ It is also used as a stimulant for making various different types of breath fresheners and perfumes. Cardamom has much use in Arabia and Africa as well.
★ Once the Europeans started using this spice, its popularity grew rampantly beyond the local boundaries. There are three grades to the spice mainly, Alleppey Green Extra Bold, Alleppey Green Bold and Alleppey Green Superior.
Another very important spice that is extensively cultivated in Kerala is clove. In fact, this is a spice that everyone will be able to find some at home. Clove is mainly popular for its various oils. It is used in preparing certain meat dishes for an added flavor. At one point of time, this spice was used by the people in the state in order to improve the dental hygiene. The spice has very good medicinal properties. It maybe used for making various types of soaps, toothpastes and perfumes.
Nutmeg is very popular in this state. It is a very important condiment that is used in various types of soaps, salts, confectioneries as well as baked goods. This condiment is also added by many chefs as a type of seasoning agent. Most of its cultivation takes place in the southern regions of India. Star anise is also a very good looking fruit which comes from evergreen trees grown extensively in this state. The shape is like a star with color that ranges from white to red. The spices from this fruit has great medicinal properties. Its primary function is as a flavoring agent. It also has the ability to cure rheumatism, help in digestion and so on.
Some of the best ginger is grown in this part of the country. Here, both pressed as well as raw ginger are greatly in demand, especially among tourists. The ginger can be drunk with some tea. It can also be used as a remedy. It is greatly used in food processing for certain types of curried meats, carbohydrate drinks, carbonated drinks, cocktails, liquors and so on. Turmeric is also a part of the family of gingers. It has great medicinal benefits that are recognized all over the globe. It also has great culinary uses and can be used for many different kinds of cuisines in Kerala. It provides a very pungent taste to the food in which it is used.
The state will be incomplete without its cinnamon. This agent for mild flavoring used extensively in a number of the dishes which are a part of the local cuisine is a very important part of the repertoire of spices of the state. The spice is also used for making spices as well as other perfumes and cosmetics. It can be used for curing a number of ailments including nausea, sickness and so on. The delicate fragrance and agreeable taste, adds to the overall appeal of this particular spice. On the other hand vanilla was never a native to the place. It was brought to the state from the far West. However, once it started growing the cultivation flourished and it was much in demand as well. The cultivation mainly progressed because of the humid weather which is ideal for vanilla plantation. It is a very important element in cakes, sweets, ice creams and so on. This is a very important agent in pharmaceutical products as well.
This is also an essential product for many traditional Indian food preparations. It enhances the food to a great extent. Moreover, it is also greatly used in pharmaceuticals, tanning, dyeing, textile and cosmetics, etc. A few other commonly used spices in Kerala include cumin seeds, coriander, basil, oregano, chilly and so on. Some of the best quality of these spices are available in Kerala even though these are cultivated in almost all parts of India. Basil and coriander are widely used ingredients. In most oriental dishes, coriander is used as a flavoring agent as well as for garnishing. It adds a subtle flavor that can adjust to almost any type of taste bud. Oregano is an ingredient that is widely popular in Italian dishes. However, this spice is widely grown here before it is exported outside India. In fact, some of the best quality oregano is exported from Kerala to Italy. Other common ingredients and spices also include celery, aniseed, tharagon and so on.
This is a spice that has a very sour taste. It is a bit astringent too. The spice is mainly grown in the coastal regions of the country including Kerela. Since it is very difficult to find this spice except in coastal regions, Kerela is a great choice to shop for this spice. The process of creating the spice from the fruit is also a lengthy process and requires a lot of drying, cleaning and processing. The spice has many uses. It is greatly used in many coconut based dishes including certain curries, especially fish curries. Apart from that, it also has great medicinal uses. It has certain refrigerant properties. It is great for curing certain types of skin ailments and allergies. It also helps to cure cholesterol for those who are suffering from obesity and heart problems. As a result, it is a much sought after spice from these regions of India. Many tourists also prefer to buy this spice in large quantities, as it is not available in all regions of the world. It may be considered to be one of the best products that a tourist may buy on visiting Kerala tourist places.
It is seen that a number of different spices are cultivated in Kerala all throughout the day. The climate of the region is favorable for the growth of a number of different spices. Hence, there is a perennial cultivation of spices throughout the year. As a result, Kerala has become well known for its spices. The history of Kerela is also associated intimately with spices. Hence, as a result, with the state being a popular name in the spice trade and business many tourists every year buys spices from the region and bring it back with them. Regularly, the region is flooded with traders and export business has now become a daily livelihood. As a result, the spice trade in Kerala is one of the most thriving businesses in the state. Hence, as a tourist on visiting our god’s own country with Kerala tour packages it is advisable to stock up on these few spices which may be considered to be of some of the best quality available.
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