Secrets of the Spices from Kerala
shared by Verushka Ramasami
It is no coincidence that Kerala is known as the Spice Capital of the World. The perfect climate and soil is home to various exotic spices. God’s Own Country has a varied history of inhabitants from the Dutch to the British and the Arabs. The aroma of the Spices of Kerala seem to have drawn the rest of the world to Kerala.
I can not imagine eating or cooking food without any spices. So it is no surprise that when Kerala was discovered everyone in the world wanted a piece of Kerala for their exotic spices and Port.
Last year I attended a Kitchen Tea which is a Bridal Shower but with more emphasis of gifts for the kitchen. One of the games was a game to identify spices while blindfolded. A number of my aunts and a granny took part in this game and I knew their wealth of knowledge in the kitchen would be a bonus. We were given 5 different spices some powdered and some whole to identify. Now I was surprised when I was announced as the winner getting 4 out of the 5 spices correct. So this proved that indeed I am the SpiceGoddess.
One of my many highlights from Kerala included our visit to the Spice Garden Plantation. Boy oh Boy was the SpiceGoddess was in her element. During this tour we got to see spices growing and found out the uses. Seeing spices in the natural environment and not in dried or powdered form is really amazing. I must admit I never actually knew what some spices actually look like in the natural form. Our guide was very informative and shared the various uses of these spices. It is no surprise that most of the spices have medicinal properties and are used in Ayurveda Medicine.
The following are my favourite 5 spices from Kerala and here is why:
1. Black Pepper
Black Pepper is known as the King of Spices and was traded all over the world. Functions include antioxidant properties, preservation of food and weightloss.The common cold and flu is also banished away by using Black Pepper and this spice also has an antibacterial properties. I love using fresh ground black pepper of salads and eggs it just heightens and intensifies the flavours of any meal.
This spice grows underground like a root and at first glance looks like Ginger. Originally Tumeric was used as a food colourant before a flavouring in food. Tumeric is an antioxidant ,pain relief and an anti inflammatory are just some of the benefits. Beauty and skin care products are also made from Tumeric. Typically I use Tumeric as a colourant to rice.
This spice is related to the ginger family. Cardamom is often used in the dry whole spice mixes used in cooking. We often call them speed bumps as you can be enjoying your meal and suddenly you bite into this pod and out of the beautiful green pod a strong pungent flavour is released. Cardamom also known as Elachi is used in sweet and savoury dishes. Some of the benefits include preventing bad breath ,aids in digestion and reduces blood pressure. The Arabs flavour their coffee with Elachi. This spice according to Indian Folklore is said to also ward off evil.
Having only ever seen this spice in its dried form I was intrigued to see it in all it’s beauty naturally. Mace is the beautiful red outer skin of the Nutmeg. The flavour is subtle with a hint of pepper. Health benefits include curing insomnia ( no surprises as Nutmeg does the same),pain relief,and it boosts circulation.
Kerala has a large variety of spices but this is just a few of my favourites. These spices are commonly used in kitchens all over the world in a variety of ways. What is your favourite spice and why ?
Be Inspired !