India is the land of spices. Overall these years of rich culture and tradition, no country grows as many kinds of spices as India.
Indian spices have been used for cooking and as herbal medication around the world for centuries and impart health to the body. Here are some of the most prominent spices, grown in varying regions of the Indian subcontinent.
1. Black Pepper: India is one of the largest producers of pepper in the World, and its production is prevalent in almost all the districts of Kerala, followed by regions in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Pepper is a tropical plant that grows as vines. Black peppercorns, also known as the “king of spices” and “black gold,” are picked when they are nearly ripe – they are then sun-dried, which turns the outer layer black. Black pepper has more flavor notes. Black pepper extract improves blood sugar control and has demonstrated cholesterol-lowering effects.
2. Cardamom: Popularly referred to as the “queen of aromatic spices,” cardamom is one of the oldest known spices in the world that is used for both flavoring and medicinal purposes. Indian spice farmers produce about 90 percent of the world’s total cardamom, owing to its massively increasing demand in the world market. Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu are the three major Indian states in which cardamom is cultivated. Cardamom may help lower blood pressure, most likely due to its antioxidant and diuretic properties. It’s often used to treat bad breath and is a component of some chewing gums.
3. Star Anise: The rusty colored and tough-skinned star anise has widely used aromatic properties. Its origins lie in Vietnam and China, among the Indian spices producing regions, star anise is produced to a small extent in Arunachal Pradesh. Star anise has been useful in the medical realm for treating a variety of fungal, bacterial, and viral infections.
4. Cinnamon: When a cinnamon tree is around two years old, cultivators cut the plant to the size of a stump and cover it with soil. This technique causes the plant to grow like a bush, with new shoots emerging out of the sides by the following year, which ultimately contributes to the making of the actual cinnamon. Cinnamon is a hardy plant and can tolerate a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Among the Indian spices producing regions, cinnamon is known to be cultivated in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative and improves some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
5. Clove: The clove, an aromatic dried flower, is native to India and Indonesia. Humid, tropical climates best suit its cultivation, and it can be grown almost anywhere in India, except in the coastal sandy belt area. In fact, the hilly tracts of the Western Ghats and the red soils of Kerala are the most ideal spots for the cultivation of cloves.
6. Nutmeg: Another of the Indian spices with several health benefits, Nutmeg is an evergreen perennial tree that produces two separate spices, namely nutmeg, and mace. Nutmeg is indigenous to Moluccas Islands (Indonesia). In fact, Over 50% of the world’s exports of nutmeg and mace are from Indonesia. Among the Indian spices producing regions, nutmeg is mainly cultivated in Thrissur, Ernakulam and Kottayam districts of Kerala and parts of Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts in Tamil Nadu. Nutmeg and mace are known to relieve the likes of diarrhea, nausea, stomach spasms and pain, and intestinal gas.