The fame of Indian spices is older than the recorded history; the climate of the country is suitable for almost all spices. They constitute an important group of agricultural commodities which are virtually indispensable in the culinary art. They add tang and flavour to otherwise insipid foods. Some of them also possess antioxidant properties, while others are used as preservatives in some foods like pickles and chutneys.
There are about eighty spices grown in different parts of the world and around fifty of them are grown in India. The spices that India can offer in abundant quantities are pepper, ginger, turmeric, chili, cardamom, celery, fenugreek, fennel, cumin, dill, coriander, cinnamon, ajowan, cassia, clove, nutmeg and mace. Among the spices exported, pepper has the leading position in terms of both quantity and amount.
Ajowan, a native Indian plant, is an aromatic spice. Its striped seeds are similar in appearance to cumin seeds. It gives a specific aroma and taste to a wide variety of foods. It is popular in savoury snacks, breads and pastries. It has also excellent preservative medicinal properties.
Cardamom is the queen of all spices. It is one of the most sought after spices in the world. Cardamom is grown in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka; it is the dried fruit of an herbaceous perennial plant. Warm humid climate, loamy soil rich in organic matter, distributed rainfall and special cultivation and processing methods, all combine to make Indian cardamom truly unique in aroma, flavour and size. There are three grades in which Indian cardamom is well known in the International market; ‘Aleppey green Extra Bold’ (AGEB), ‘ Alleppey Green Bold’ (AGB) and ‘Alleppey Green Superior’ (AGS).
Eva Reñé Bañeres, March 14th 2011