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About Indian spices

Indian spices are not just an ingredient as they add flavor as well as aroma to the food. These spices include a large variety of herbs that are grown across the Indian subcontinent (South Asia). Due to different climatic conditions across the country, India produces a variety of spices while others are imported from countries having similar climates. Indian spices like cardamom, ginger, mint and parsley are widely used for preparing different dishes of Indian cuisine. These spices are also used for flavoring foods and medicines in pharmaceutical, perfumery and cosmetics.

These spices are also an indispensable part of Indian economy as India produces 75 types of spices out of the 109 listed with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Even in the ancient and medieval ages, Indian spices played a significant role in strengthening the economic conditions.

Earlier, the Indian spices were traded to Rome and China and later, the Spices Board of India was set up to administer the spice trading. States like Kerala, Punjab, Gujarat, Manipur, Mizoram and Uttar Pradesh are considered as the hub for growing spices.

Being rich in medicinal value, these spices are good for health. These spices are excellent appetizers & digestives and are also considered essential in the culinary art all over the world. Some of them have anti-oxidant properties while others have preservative properties and are used in foods like pickles and chutneys. Some spices also possess strong anti-microbial and antibiotic activities.

In the preparation of Indian spices, various ingredients like dried seeds, leaves, flowers, barks, roots and fruits are utilized. Certain spices are grinded and used in the powder forms. Following are the different parts of the plants used in Indian cuisine and their uses:

The Indian spices are used in their original forms to enhance the flavors of certain food items. Some of the seeds which are used as spices are ajowan, anardana, aniseed, caraway, celery, celeriac, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dill seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and poppy seed.

The leaves have a distinctive flavor, which makes the food more tasty and delicious. Different leaves are used all over the world for culinary and medicinal purposes. Some of the leaves which are commonly used as spices are basil laurel leaves, tejpat, curry leaves, peppermint leaves, mint origanum, parsley, sage savory and rosemary leaves.

Flowers And Fruits
Some common flowers which are used as spices are rose, caper, rhododendron, juniper, kokum, mace and nutmeg and vanilla.

Roots of various plants are used as spices and condiments such as galangal, garlic ginger, horse radish, onion, stone leek, lovage, shallot, sweet flag and turmeric

Bark is a highly flavored part of the plant. It imparts taste to certain food items. Some common examples of such spices are black pepper, long pepper, chabika, clove, amchur, asafoetida, karpoor, arrowroot, musk mallow and others

History of Indian spices

The history of Indian spices spans across more than 7000 years. It started centuries ago when Greece and Rome discovered that sailing ships were carrying Indian spices, perfumes and textiles to Mesopotamia, Arabia and Egypt. Then, the Greek merchants entered the markets of South India for buying numerous expensive items including the spices. The Epicurean Rome was lured by Indian spices, silks, brocades, Dhaka Muslin and cloth of gold, hence was spending a fortune. Due to this fact, even the Parthian wars were being fought by Rome to keep open the trade route to India.

After the arrival of the Muslims, Indian spices took a special place in Muslim dishes also and became famous throughout the country. Further, during the colonial rule, Arabian traders got the rare and exotic spices of the Far East from local spice merchants. India had spent the previous two millennia spreading its culture to the Spice Islands of the east and made good money by supplying these spices at high prices to the Indian middle men and Europe as well. In 1492 A.D, even Vasco Da Gama and Columbus were also searching for a new route to the spice lands of Asia. Afterwards, the Dutch rule encouraged the trade of spice in India.

During British reign, spice trading was encouraged again, which resulted in the export of sandalwood, turmeric, saffron, coriander and a host of other Indian spices to various parts of the world. After independence, to keep the trade of Indian spices flourishing, the Board of Spices was established.

Types of Spices
Depending upon the parts from which the spices are extracted, our range of Indian spices is bifurcated into the following types:

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