Why Is Kerala Called The Spice Garden of India?
The major locations where these spices are cultivated in Kerala are- Idukki and Wayanad. The favourable conditions for these spices to grow include hot and humid climate with abundant moisture and loamy soil or alluvial soil. The two major seasons in Kerala are summers and monsoon. Since the summers in Kerala provide all the sufficient conditions, it becomes the best time for their cultivation.
History of Spice Trades in Kerala
- The history of the spice trade in Kerala dates back to 3000 B.C. Even then, Kerala was the chief exporter of exotic and aromatic spices like Cardamom, black pepper cons, etc.
- The people of Egypt and Babylonia were the first importers and door openers for Indian spices in the Middle East.
- Subsequently, Arabs stepped into the business of importing and selling Indian spices in Arab countries. By the end of the B.C. era, these exotic spices exported from Kerala reached the Greeks through their trade with the Egyptians.
- This exchange established the famous Spice trade route. It was a route which connected the Greco-Roman world to Asia, and more precisely, to India. Before the beginning of the Christian era, Indian spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and turmeric were already famous in the Western world by the name of ‘Eastern spices’.
- Soon, the Arabs commenced direct trading of spices from Kerala to the Arab countries.
- Later on, in 1498 Vasco Da Gama, a Portuguese traveller reached the shore of Calicut in the Western Ghats. Soon after this discovery of a sea route to Indian coastal areas, many Portuguese and Dutch sailors and businessmen landed on India and started to export the spices from the coasts of Kerala to their countries.
Types of Spices in Kerala
- Black pepper, also known as “the king of spices”, is recommended to cure medical conditions rising out of deficiency of Vitamins as it is rich in Vitamins. Black pepper is the dried berry of Plant Piper nigrum. It requires a hot and humid climate to grow, exactly what Kerala has.
- Cinnamon is beneficial for repairing damaged tissues and helps fight infections. It is extracted from the barks of Cinnamomum Verum. The oil extracted from this bark has immense medicinal value and essential components that help heal the wounds and fight fungal infections. Due to warming efficacy, Cinnamon is used as an aphrodisiac.
- Turmeric is an extensively used spice which imparts beautiful colour to the food, also helps fight skin infections, acne and boosts our immunity. Turmeric is a natural antiseptic, blood purifier and its commercial uses include dying.
- Cardamom “the queen of spices”, helps control blood pressure and improve digestion. It is called so because of its flavour and aroma. The High Ranges of Kerala is the home of Cardamom. Because of its pleasant aroma, it is also used in perfumery.
- Similarly, spices like ginger, clove and nutmeg impart aroma and distinct flavour to the food and also helps increase metabolism and cure many skin infections. Nutmeg is used as an important ingredient in toothpaste, face creams and even soaps.