Spices: There Origins & Varieties

In the Middle Ages, Europe was attracted to East which was very exotic and fascinating. One of the main reasons was due to spices. Due to rich spices available in India, there was a lot of competition between Dutch, English and French as each of them wanted to control trade and politics in India. It can be rightly concluded that spices were one of the reasons why Europeans migrated to India.

Spices like black pepper, cloves, cinnamon etc. are available at a cheap price now. But, in the past they were as expensive as silver and gold.

According to archeologists, it has been found that in primitive times humans used aromatic plants for flavoring. The primitive human used sweet-smelling spices for making food taste good. The primitive people offered different types of aromatic herbs to primitive gods and used spices for healing. And from there on, spices have become a very significant part of our life.

Spices are one of the early reasons why globalisation took place. Before the European voyages, the trade of spices was very prominent. In Europe, the demand for pepper was so great that it resulted in voyages of Vasco Da Gama and Christopher Columbus. This demand for aromatic food and flavours is still present today and is at the core of trade that is done today.

In this article, we have covered top 10 spices that add flavour to modern Indian and European food:-

  • Cumin

     

    Photo Courtesy: Aapni Dookan

    Cumin is mainly produced in India. It amounts to almost 70 percent of world’s production. Cumin is used very frequently in spice mixes and adds smoky flavour to Indian dishes. You can identify Cumin by its intense fragrance and distinct ridged brown seeds. Cumin can be confused with anise seeds, caraway and fennel but it differs from them in terms of colour and taste. Cumin is best used freshly ground.

  • Cardamom

     

    Photo Courtesy: شرکت آغاز دانه سپاهان

    Indian cooking uses 2 kinds of cardamom i.e. green and black. The green variety of cardamom is more commonly used. It is used in spice mixes, lassis and Indian desserts. It has sweet and light flavor with mild note of eucalyptus. Green cardamom can be used to prepare spice mixes like garam masala. You can also use cardamom seeds in sweets by crushing the seeds, thus providing fragrance.

  • Clove

     

    Photo Courtesy: Natural Factors

    Many Indian dishes use clove, which is a common spice used in Indian cooking. The flavor of the cloves comes from essential oils that they contain. Cloves are basically flowers and a lot of their oil is taken out before they are dried. Cloves can be used as a whole or can be blended into spice mixes.

  • Black Pepper

     

    Photo Courtesy: Ahimsa Oils

    Black pepper is mainly found in India in Malabar region and Western Ghats. It is hard to grow this spice as it depends on natural cycles like rainfall. Like most spices, one needs to toast black pepper before blending.

  • Coriander

     

    Photo Courtesy: PradeshJagran

    Coriander is one of the most popular spices of India. It is one of the oldest spices in the world. It is golden-yellow in colour and has gentle ridged texture. The seeds are aromatic and have citrus flavor.Many spices are prepared using whole coriander.

  • Mustard Seeds

     

    Photo Courtesy: Ghati International

    Mustard seeds are brown, black or yellow in color. They are frequently used in Indian cooking. When mustard seeds are crushed or cooked in oil, the flavor of mustard gets released. It is a staple ingredient of many curries, curry powders and mustard oil. It is commonly available in North India.

  • Fenugreek

     

    Photo Courtesy: Looks Forever

    Fenugreek is a spice that lends a very earthy, musky curry fragrance. The seeds of fenugreek are yellow and look like wheat kernels. The leaves of Fenugreek are dried and can be used as spices. They are also known as kasuri methi. They give butter chicken its unique flavour.

  • Turmeric

     

    Photo Courtesy: Cooking Worlds

    Turmeric is one of the most common Indian spice. It is grown as a rhizome and can be used fresh or dried. It has been shown to have a lot of health benefits and is used with many curries and spice mixes.

  • Saffron

     

    Photo Courtesy: Cercals & Pulses

    Saffron is one of the most expensive spices of the world. It is more valuable than gold because of the fact that it needs a lot of labor to produce. Saffron is actually the stigma of crocus flowers and is best picked by hands. The color of best saffron is dark red an originates from Kashmir, Spain, and Iran. Fresher saffron have deeper color. Saffron has unique flavor and fragrance.

  • Cassia Bark

     

    Photo Courtesy: iStock

    Cassia bark is also known as Chinese cinnamon. It belongs to the family of cinnamon tree. Cinnamon differs from cassia and is also known as “true cinnamon”. Cassia is cheaper to produce when compared to other spices. The majority of ground cinnamon is prepared from cassia bark. Cassia has milder flavours as compared to cinnamon and can be used in large quantities.

Indian Spices & Their Recipes

Since early times, spices have been closely linked to magic, preservation, cultural traditions, medicine and embalming. During India’s external trade with Mesopotamia, Sumeria, China, Arabia and Egypt, spices were an important component along with textiles and perfumes. This was way back 7000 years ago. This was way before Romans and Greeks.

The clove was first mentioned in the Ramayana and some writings dating back to Roman Empire in 1st century AD.

There are a variety of spices that are found throughout India. As India has a lot of climatic regions, it produces a lot of spices. Many of these spices originated in the subcontinent itself and others have been imported and since then have been locally cultivated for ages. There have been many journeys done to Indian subcontinent in search of rich spices. It is believed that King Solomon sent his men to look for Indian spices.

Almost 2.5 million tonnes of spices are produced in Indian continent every year. Almost 200,000 tonnes of spices are exported from the continent every year. Out of about 500,000 tonnes of import that is done throughout the world, India share is 44 %.

Indian spices are well known for their preservative, medicinal and seasoning effects. Besides adding color, smell and taste, Indian spices take care of your health.

In this article, we have collected a list of Indian spices and their delicious recipes:-

  • Cardamom

     

    Photo Courtesy: Bulgarian Spices

    In Indian cooking, two kinds of cardamom are there: green and black. Green cardamom is commonly found kind of spice. It is used in many things including spices, desserts and lassis. The flavor of cardamom is sweet and light. It has scent of eucalyptus. When you prepare spices like garam masala, you can make use of whole green cardamom. But if you are preparing sweets or desserts, you should open the pod and crush the black seeds inside it.

    Black cardamom is very smoky and powerful. Caution should be guarded when using it.

  • Clove

     

    Photo Courtesy: The Candida Diet

    Clove is commonly used spice of Indian cooking. Its fragrance is present in many Indian dishes. Clove consist of essential oils which give it a strong, medicinal flavor. Cloves are basically flowers. A lot of their oils is extracted before drying and cooking. Cloves can be used as a whole or mixed with spices.

  • Cassia

     

    Photo Courtesy: Essential Oils

    Cassia bark is also known as Chinese cinnamon. It comes under the genus of cinnamon tree. Cinnamon differs from cassia and is also known as “true cinnamon.” The production of cassia is cheaper and a large portion of ground cinnamon is prepared from cassia bark. People prefer using cassia instead of cinnamon as it is mild in flavor.

  • Black Pepper

     

    Photo Courtesy: Ahimsa Oils

    Black pepper is a spice that is commonly found in India, specially in Malabar region and Western Ghats. This spice is very hard to grow. It takes many natural cycles like a good rainfall, that is why prices for fresh pepper keep on changing. Black pepper requires toasting before blending.

  • Cumin

     

    Photo Courtesy: naturnorm

    Cumin is used to make Indian dishes spicy and smoky. Its brown seeds have intense fragrance. It should not be confused with anise, caraway and fennel. You can differentiate it with its taste and colour.

  • Coriander

     

    Photo Courtesy: Tiptop Home Remedies

    One of the most popular spices is Coriander. Coriander is one of the oldest spices of the world. It can be identified by its golden yellow color and gentle ridged texture. The seeds of coriander have very nice fragrance with a touch of citrus. Many spice mixes use ground coriander.

  • Nutmeg and Mace

     

    Photo Courtesy: Chalmers Trade International

    Nutmeg and mace are a favourite Indian spice and much used in Indian cooking. Nutmeg is covered with mace, which is dark-red in colour. Fresh nutmeg can be processed if you remove the pulpy outside and sliding the mace.

  • Mustard Seeds

     

    Photo Courtesy: Graina

    Mustard seeds, which are brown, black or yellow can be interchangeably used in Indian cooking. Mustard seeds are flavorful and are cooked and crushed. They have nutty and smoky flavor. The oil of mustard is commonly used in Northern parts of India.

    Some traditional Indian dishes include: Masala Dosa, Rogan Josh, Hyderabadi Biryani, Vada Pav, Dhokla

    For more interesting recipes visit: http://tastyfix.com/

Unique Indian Spices

Indian food is known for its distinctive taste and aroma. The delicious Indian food consists of a combination of herbs, flavors and spices. In this article you will find some of the best spices of Indian cuisine. You can try all the spices and explore the variety of tastes present in Indian Cuisine.

TURMERIC

Photo Courtesy: theindiannawaaz

Photo Courtesy: theindiannawaaz

This Indian spice is bright yellow and can be found both in South Indian and North Indian cooking. This unique spice is made from an Indian plant that belongs to the ginger family. It is made by boiling, drying, cleaning and polishing the roots of turmeric plants. It was known as Indian saffron in medieval Europe. In those days, it was very expensive as compared to present saffron spice. It is primarily used in Kashmiri dishes.

CORIANDER

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Coriander powder is popularly known as ‘Dhaniya’ in India. It is available in powdered form or as whole seeds. Fresh coriander, also known as ‘cilantro’ is widely used in Indian Cuisine. The seeds of coriander are used as condiment. Coriander has a sweet and delicate aroma. It can be found in every household of India. It is used in Rasam, Dals, Soups, Curries and Sambar. Many a times, the fresh coriander leaves are used for garnishing finished dishes. Coriander originated in Mediterranean but is found in India and other countries.

CUMIN

Photo Courtesy: tablespoon

Photo Courtesy: tablespoon

Cumin is also known as ‘Jeera’ in Indian continent. It is available in whole seed form or powdered form. It comes from an annual herb that grows in many parts of the world. Cumin is found in Syria, Egypt, Iran, Mediterranean and India. It also grows in China, Malta, Sicily and Mexico. It is used as a flavoring agent in Indian cooking. It is widely used in preparations that include curry powders, bread seasoning, cheese and cakes and also as a condiment. It is used in small quantities to enhance the taste of the dish. It is being used since 2nd century B.C.

MUSTARD SEEDS

Photo Courtesy: seriouseats

Photo Courtesy: seriouseats

Mustard seeds are produced from an annual herb. They can be used in vegetables, as flavors or as spices. They have variable colors and sizes which include pale yellow, tiny black, brown or white balls. When they are roasted, they release their full flavors. In South India, they are used as Tadka(for increasing flavor) while cooking. The yellow or white mustard comes from southern Europe while brown mustard comes from China. Black mustard seeds have their origin in Southern Mediterranean region.

CURRY

Photo Courtesy: spiceflair

Photo Courtesy: spiceflair

Curry leaves are found on curry tree. Curry is used in South-Indian dishes to add flavor and fragrance. It is grown throughout South India and is used in dry or fresh. It is used as a sauce for many Indian recipes. Curry is also used in marinating tikka and tandoori kebabs. The bark of a curry tree and its roots can be used as a stimulant or tonic. According to researchers, curry has its origins before Christ.

 

These are just a few from a long list of spices. For more info on Indian spices visit>>>http://bit.ly/1G4kbVx

For tasty Indian recipes made from Indian spices, visit>>>tastyfix.com