Pepper, known as the “king of spices,” is one of the most important ingredients in Indian cuisine. It has a long history of being used in cooking, as well as in medicine and trade. The story of pepper is a fascinating one, full of adventure and intrigue.
Black pepper and long pepper, two of the most popular varieties of pepper, have been grown in India for over 2,000 years. In ancient times, pepper was considered a luxury item and was traded along the Spice Route. It was even used as currency in some parts of the world. The Greeks, Romans, and Arabs were all big fans of Indian pepper, and it was in high demand in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Pepper was such a valuable commodity that European traders went to great lengths to find new sources of it. The Portuguese, for example, were the first Europeans to establish a direct sea route to India, in order to bypass Arab middlemen who controlled the overland trade routes. The Dutch and the British soon followed, and the pepper trade became a major source of wealth for these colonial powers.
Today, India is still one of the largest producers of pepper in the world, with Kerala being the primary region of production. The climate in Kerala is ideal for growing pepper, with its hot and humid conditions, and fertile soil. The state produces both black pepper and long pepper, which are used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to curries and chutneys.
Black pepper is the most widely used spice in the world, and India is the largest producer of it. Vietnam and Indonesia are the other major producers. Long pepper, on the other hand, is not as widely used and is grown primarily in India and Indonesia.
In South Indian cuisine, black pepper and long pepper are used in a variety of ways. They are often used together in spice blends, such as rasam powder and sambar powder. Black pepper is also used in marinades and rubs for meat, fish, and poultry. Long pepper is used to add a warm, spicy flavor to soups and stews, and is sometimes used as a substitute for black pepper.
Despite its long history and global popularity, pepper production has faced a number of challenges in recent years. Climate change, disease, and other factors have led to a decline in production in some areas. However, efforts are being made to promote sustainable, regenerative agriculture practices to ensure that pepper production can continue for generations to come.
In addition to India, pepper is also grown in a number of other countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, and Sri Lanka. Vietnam is currently the largest producer of pepper, followed by Brazil and Indonesia. As for consumption, the United States is the largest consumer of pepper, followed by Europe and Asia.
When it comes to the best pepper in the world, many experts consider the Tellicherry variety from Kerala to be among the finest - known for its bold, complex flavor, and is often used by professional chefs and food enthusiasts. This is a name given to black pepper of a certain size (4.25 mm or larger), this variety doesn't come from the city of Tellicherry.
Black pepper is a stand out ingredient in PODI life's Tangy Rasam PODI. It is an essential flavor in any rasam.
In conclusion, black pepper and long pepper are important ingredients in South Indian cuisine, as well as in global trade and history. These spices have been cherished for thousands of years, and continue to play a vital role in our culinary and cultural heritage. By supporting sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices, we can help ensure that these spices remain an important part of our world for generations to come.
"Pepper: The Spice that Changed the World" by Christine McFadden
"A Culinary History of Southern India" by S. Meenakshi Ammal
"Pepper: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice" by Marjorie Shaffer
"The Cambridge World History of Food" edited by Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas
Spices Board India website (https://www.indianspices.com/spice-catalogue/pepper)
Britannica website (https://www.britannica.com/topic/pepper-plant)
The Spruce Eats website (https://www.thespruceeats.com/introduction-to-black-pepper-765722)