Originating from the backyard of the monsoon rainforests has been stuffed into the nostrils of a mummified Egyptian King.
The journey of black pepper from the pages of history to our kitchen pantry has been crucial. The archaeological survey dates the existence of this spice to more than 4,000 years.
This home-grown Indian spice, originating from the backyard of the monsoon rainforests has voyaged through the history of time – from being stuffed into the nostrils of a mummified Egyptian Kings in 13th BC to the Roman trades in 40th AD. Even the holy grail of Hindu Mythology, the Mahabharata written in 4th Century BC mentions piquant meals flavoured with black pepper.
If we trace the history of trade in India with the world, Black pepper has been a constant chronicler in all these trades. This precious spice has been compared to expensive pearls and even gold. The French even had a saying “As dear as pepper.” Pepper was not only a culinary item but a symbol of status during the middle ages.
Its sharp flavors and woody pungent taste, continues to make it one of the most popular and expensive spices in the world.
Black pepper is mainly grown in the mighty forests of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Konkan, Pondicherry and on the islands of Andaman and Nicobar. India holds the rank of being the number one exporter and consumer of black pepper.
Adding this spice to any cuisine adds a biting heat to the dish, it envelopes our gustatory and olfactory senses with a spicy goodness.
The use of black pepper in food is limitless. Pongal, a breakfast food contains whole black peppercorns, which adds a delicious fieriness to the dish. Rasam with whole peppers is not only tasty, but is also cure cold and blocked nasal passages. Freshly crushed pepper can be added in almost anything — from salads, soups, to pastas, and even buttermilk. You can use it to spice up sauces or curries. But most experts will recommend that you cook pepper as less as possible; it’s the freshly ground ones that are most beneficial. Therefore, invest in a good pepper mill, and keep it on the table — you never know when you might need it.
I love the visual of the peppercorn creeper vines latching itself onto the Jackfruit, mango and coconut trees as much as I love freshly crushed pepper sprinkled into my meals!
The pepper travels far and wide, dominating the spice trade throughout the world, by making way into almost every kitchen pantry there is.