SPICES & CONDIMENTS
Nutmeg is native of
Molucces Island (Indonesia) and was introduced to India towards the end of the 18th
century and is grown now in certain pockets of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
sativum L.) is an annual herb, mainly cultivated for its fruits as well as for the
tender green leaves. It is native of the Mediterranean region. In India, it is grown in
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Major portion is
though consumed locally; a small quantity is being exported now.
Garlic, a native of
Southern Europe is one of the important bulb crops grown and used as a spice or condiment
throughout India. Gujarat followed by Orissa are the largest producing states. It
possesses a high natritive value, its preparations are administered as a cure against
stomach disease, sore eyes and ear ache. It is commonly used in the preparation of various
dishes. Allicin, the principle amoebic dysentry and is also having many other medicinal
Curry leaf plays an
important role as a condiment in the culinary preparation of South Indian dishes. It is
cultivated in field scale in Coimbatore, Periyar, Madurai, Salem and Trichy districts of
Tamil Nadu and in Dharward, Belgaum and Uttara Kannada of Karnataka State. The botanical
name of the curry leaf is Murrya koenigii Spreng. It belongs to the family
indicus L (Family: Caesalpinaceae), is native to tropical Africa and is now widely
planted and naturalised everywhere in the tropics.
The allspice of
commerce is the dried immature fruit of the tree Pimenta dioica (Family:
Myrtaceae). It is indigenous to West Indies.
Vanilla is native of
the Atlantic coast from Mexico to Brazil. It is grown on a plantation scale in Java,
Mauritius, Madagascar, Tahiti, Seycheles, Zanzibar, Brazil and Jamaica and other islands
of the West Indies.
Fenugreek, a native of
South Eastern Europe and West Asia, is cultivated as a leafy vegetable, condiment and as
medicinal plant. The fresh tender leaves and stem are consumed as curried vegetable and
the seeds are mainly used as spice for flavoring almost all dishes.
Clove, the dried unopened flower buds of the evergreen tree, Syzygium aromaticum, (Syn. Eugenia
caryophyllus) is an important spices noted for its flavour and medicinal values.
Ginger, an indigenous
plant, is an important spice crop of the world. It is valued in medicine as a carminative
and stimulant of the gastro-intestinal tract.
known as Queen of Spices is native to the evergreen rainy forests of Western Ghats in
South India. Botanical name of the cardamom is Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton, which
belongs to the family Zingiberaceae.
Black pepper (Piper
nigrum L.), the king of spices, 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.
Spices and condiments
Spices are those
plants, the products of which are made use as food adjuncts to add aroma and flavour.
Condiments are also spices, products of which are used as food adjuncts to add
taste only. Both spices and condiments contain essential oils, which provide the flavour
and taste. They also stimulate digestion on account of there carminative properties. They
are of little nutritive value. They are used whole, ground, paste or liquid from, mainly
for flavouring and seasoning food. Most spices increase the shelf life of food, especially
the dry varieties. Some are added to improve texture and some to introduce a palatable
colour or odour.
Classification of spices
There are about 35
spices and condiments which can be broadly classified into 6 groups, based upon the parts
of the plants from which they are obtained:
a. Rhizomes and
root spices:Ginger, Turmeric, and Garlic.
b. Seed spices :Nutmeg, Coriander, Fennel, Cumin, Fenugreek, Dill, Aniseed, Celery and Bishopweed.
c. Bark spices:Cinnamon
d. Fruit spices: Cardamom, Black Pepper, Vanilla, All spice, Cassia, Tamarind, etc.
e. Leaf spices: Bay leaf, Curry leaf, etc.
f. Flower spices: Clove, Saffron, Asafoetida, etc.
Importance of spices in India
Most of the spices are
native of our country and hence India is known as the Land of Spices.
1. India produces
spices on 2.0 million ha with an annual production of about 2.3 million tonnes,
contributing nearly 20% of worlds production.
2. Nearly 90-95% of
the total production is consumed locally and the rest exported.
3. India is the
biggest exporter of spices.
4. They are
indispensable part of our culinary preparations especially used for flavouring and
seasoning of food.
5. Most of the spices
have potential medicinal values. Besides, the spices and spice products are also
indirectly used as flavouring or colouring agents or as preservatives in many
6. Spices have been
used in cosmetic and perfumery industries. Spice oils are used in the manufacture of
soaps, tooth pastes, talcum powder, aftershave lotions, vanishing creams, mouth freshners
and room freshners etc.,