Cooking With Indian Spices
A spice can be defined as a seed, root, bark, fruit, or other plant derivative, mainly
used for flavoring or preserving food. Herbs are the leaves, flowers, or stems of
plants. The two are often referred to together as herbs and spices to be used in
recipes in the various cuisines around the world.
A Little Bit of History
Many spices come from warmer climates and have antimicrobial properties, so
they can also be used as medicine. Ayurvedic medicine in India dates back more
than 5,000 years, and of course, Indian food is famous for its herbs and spices.
Spices could be used instead of refrigeration to preserve foods. The ancient
Egyptians even used them to preserve mummies. The origins of spice trading can
be traced back to around 500 BC, when intrepid Chinese and Korean junk boat
captains would trade spices. The demand grew as the spices were sold more
The demand for spices in Europe grew after the first crusades in the late 12th and
early 13th centuries, with ginger and cinnamon being particular favorites. The
famed Marco Polo traveled all the way to China and found far more than spices,
but his original goal was to trade in the spices that were in such high demand.
During the Age of Exploration, the Dutch formed the East India Company, which
became one of the most powerful trading companies in the world, with a range of
exotic ingredients being sourced from the so called Spice Islands Now known as Indonesia.