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History of Spice in India

Whatever may be the style of cooking, the key role behind every culinary delight is played by the spices. And India has always played the most pivotal role in exploring the use of a wide variety of spices from time immemorial.

The history of spice in India dates back to the times of early Indian civilization. India had spice trade with the Mediterranean civilization and Indian spices were considered as high value commodity in the Mediterranean.

The Egyptian spice expeditions were recorded as early as three and four thousand years ago. In their daily activities they used herbs and spices, quite a few of which were from India.

The Romans started sailing to India from Egypt in the first century AD. They took back cargo of Indian spices to their homeland and increasingly became extravagant users of spices for perfumes, cosmetics, medicine and cooking.

In the seventh century AD the famous Chinese pilgrim monk, Xuan Zang (Huan Tsang) visited Afghanistan. In his book he described in details the trade route linking India with Balkh, through which trade in spices were carried on along with pearls, ivory and cotton.

At the end of the 15th century, Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese navigator led an expedition that opened the sea route to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. Spices from India were so much in demand in Europe that they were worth their weight in gold in Europe in that period. The new sea route facilitated the spice trade which would prove to be a major asset to the Portuguese economy.

India – the land of spices had thus played a significant role in the global spice market and is still an important spice hub. No country in the world produces as many kinds of spices as India.

The term ‘Indian cuisine’ is quite a general one and actually refers to the wide variety of cooking styles all over India. In reality, India hosts an even greater number of distinct regional cuisines than the entire European continent. Indian food is almost always prepared with fresh ingredients along with delicate mixtures of many different fresh and dried spices.

Ayurvedic tradition of cooking, which emerged in India is a complete holistic approach to cooking and teaches us about the use of spices in a manner which aids in good health and well being.

Presented by Cookme.