In the culinary arts, the word spice refers to any dried part of a plant, other than the leaves, used for seasoning and flavoring a recipe,
but not used as the main ingredient. Why not the leaves? Because the green leafy parts of plants used in this way are considered herbs. Every
other part of the plant, including dried bark, roots, berries, seeds, twigs, or anything else that isn’t the green leafy part, is considered a spice.
Today, India produces about 75% of the world’s spices. There is an Indian Institute of Spices Research devoted to the study of spices.
As long ago as 3500 BC the ancient Egyptians were using various spices for flavoring food, in cosmetics, and for embalming their dead.
The use of spices spread through the Middle East to the eastern Mediterranean and Europe. Spices from China, Indonesia, India, and Ceylon
(now Sri Lanka) were originally transported overland by donkey or camel caravans. For almost 5000 years, Arab middlemen controlled the spice trade,
until European explorers discovered a sea route to India and other spice producing countries in the East.
The global seasonings and spices market size is expected to reach USD 20.46 billion by 2025 , according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc.,
expanding at a CAGR of 3.9% during the forecast period. Changing taste preferences of consumers, along with rising disposable income, and presence of
a large number of international as well as local players across the industry value chain are among the key trends escalating market growth.
India is a land of spices and produces almost all the spices used in the world. It is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spice and its products.
From the ancient time itself, India was the centre of Attraction for Rome and China. Further Portuguese, Arabs, Chinese and several other countries established
trade with India mainly for spices. From ancient times to till now, the charm of Indian spices is still maintained. At present Indian spice industry is as large
as it acquires 40-50 percent of the global export volume and 25 percent in terms of value. The quantity of spices India exports has gone over 4 lakhs tons annually.
Turmeric is an ancient spice, a native of South East Asia, used from antiquity as a dye and a condiment. It is cultivated primarily in Bengal, China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka,
Java, Peru, Australia and the West Indies. It is still used in rituals of the Hindu religion, and as a dye for holy robes, being natural, unsynthesized and cheap. Turmeric is,
in fact, one of the cheapest spices. Although as a dye it is used similarly to saffron, the culinary uses of the two spices should not be confused and should never replace saffron
in food dishes. Its use dates back nearly 4000 years, to the Vedic culture in India where it was used as a culinary spice and had some religious significance. The name derives
from the Latin terra merita “meritorious earth” referring to the colour of ground turmeric which resembles a mineral pigment. In many languages, turmeric is simply named as “yellow root”.
Red chili powder is made from the seeds of red chilies. Being the hottest part of the chili, the powder is exceptionally strong and used in small quantities. Originating in America, the powder
was introduced to India by the Portuguese and has since become an integral part of Indian cooking. The chili is also used in its whole form in various South Indian curries.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) is an annual herb, mainly cultivated for its fruits as well as for the tender green leaves. In India, it is grown in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan,
and Madhya Pradesh. The major portion is though consumed locally; a small quantity is being exported now. The dried ground fruits are the major ingredients of the curry powder. The whole fruits are also
used to flavour foods like pickles, sauces, and confectionery.
Black pepper is known as the king of spices and belongs to the family Piperaceae. It is obtained from the perennial climbing vine, Piper nigrum which is indigenous to the tropical forests of Western Ghats
of South India. It is one of the important and earliest known spices produced and exported from India. India accounts for 54% of the total area under pepper in the world but its share of production is only 26.6 %.
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is a member of the parsley family, a group of flowering, aromatic plants known as Umbelliferae or Apiaceae (that also includes celery, carrots, and fennel) native to Egypt and the Middle East.
The use of its small, oblong seeds, both whole and in powdered form, goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times. It became a staple in both Mexican and South American cuisine after the arrival of Spanish and Portuguese colonists.
The Common spices that we use in our kitchen are actually not common when health benefits associated with these are taken into account. Every spice has a very unique taste and completes the dish as only salt cannot do the magic to satisfy our
taste buds. Even scientists are now curious to explore the Indian kitchen to find out more health benefits linked with each spice. Consume these in moderation to reap the maximum health benefits, as excess of everything is bad.