How the Spice Industry Has Evolved and Developed Over Centuries?


Can’t stop talking about the delicious spicy dish that you had last evening? Well, the ingredients could have been central to the meal; if it wasn’t for the spices you wouldn’t have been gushing about the tasty treat.

Spices – Adding the Scrumptious Flavour to Dishes for Centuries

Are you from India or from any South East or Middle-Easter country? Then you would know what different spices mean to your kitchen. If there isn’t any spice to add the flavour, the food isn’t the food you would ever want to have.

Take for instance organic haldi powder, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, cardamom and more; these are not just to add mouth-watering, appetizing taste – but are also equally health befitting.

Insatiable Appetite for Spices–Spanning Across the Globe

It would seem odd to think how the palate over your table would have savoured if spices had not been discovered at all. Moreover, not just taste, could we have had such ailment cures if there were no spices. It is not for nothing that a small ingredient seeming such inconsequential as a spice would become so vital a food flavouring agent, adding pungency to the food and aroma to the air.

History of Spice – Growth of Trade and Industry
Spice has had a huge influence on the world trade map. If we talk about the history of the spice, there has been enormous development phase that has catapulted to the progression of the spice trade industry as of today:

·         As back as 50,000 B.C. human beings used plant ingredients to add flavour to the food, as well as for illness and wound healing.

·         Afterwards spice usage grew as a core ingredient for varied aromatic, flavouring needs, and for medicinal properties – especially in South Asia, South-East Asia, and Mediterranean regions.

·         Soon, spices’ popularity grew across the demand for different spices sparked global trade, to that effect that it created trade routes, land and water trade infrastructures, and shaped the global economy.

·         Egyptians were famous for using thyme for mummification, Papyrus Ebers for medicinal use, as far back as about 1500 BC. They also used other spices such as mustard, saffron, cardamom, cumin and sesame. Similarly Greeks and Romans also used herbs and spice.

·         Curious Use – Spices, throughout the history, have not only been for flavouring food and medicines. Interestingly, there was a time when these were used for religious practices as well as for magic and other traditional customs, especially in Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt.

·         India’s role in spices development and trade has been most significant since early times. Having a favourable environment and temperature for spices’ growth, as well as tradition of using spices and herbs for various use made India a key figure for the manufacturing off widest range of spices along with their trade throughout the globe.

·         The trade was basically carried out by the international merchants, with Akexandria, the port city in Egypt becoming the centre for spice trading. Indian spices were mainly traded through the Incense Route (Tömjénút).

·         Spice trade routes along the Silk Route came to be an important trade link, connecting China through the entire Asian continent.

·         In the Middle Ages, the Republic of Venice established its monopoly for the spice trade with the Middle East.

·         During this time, spices came to be one of the most important and expensive trade items throughout the Europe and Middle East, especially ginger, clove, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron.

·         The early modern period, around 1500 A.D., Portugal broke through the Venice’s monopoly and started controlling the sea routes of spice trade from India and China.

·         During this time, spices grew in stature and importance, as much as it became a new symbol of powerful status in the world. Also, spices were as much expensive as we find the ornamental elements like gold and silver in today’s times.

·         Spices came to be so significant a product for use and trade as some powerful European and western countries like Britain, France, Spain and Portugal were engaged in bloody sea wars for the control of spice producing colonies.

Present State of Spice Trade

·         In the present time, India (as it had since ages) is the biggest exporter of the spice, along with Brazil and Indonesia. The main exported spices being chilli, pepper, ginger, cardamom, and cumin.
·         The biggest importers are USA, along with prominent European countries including Germany and France.
Role of India – Hub of Spice in Ancient Times – Centre of Global Spice Progression at Pr4esent

India’s role in spice extraction, use, development, growth and establishing a prominent industrial hub has been central since the ancient times, standing today as well. It is well known a fact that Indian foods are credited for their aromatic and tasteful essence, attributed by the use of spices.

Traditionally the Indian medicinal industry, that has also been adopted worldwide has grown on the use of herbs and spices for ailments treatment, healing and health hazard preventive measures. The richness of spices, developed in India and spread throughout the world, is the reason that Indian spices are known as one of the finest and best.

What Made India the Heart of Spice Growth and Trade?

This should be ascribed to the physical and environmental factors in India – tropical atmosphere, hot weather, heavy rainfall, high humidity, fertile land; all favouring the growth of different spices –clove, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, red chilli, ginger, fenugreek, turmeric and more.

Why Indian Spices are So Delectably Flavourful and Aromatic?

This is because of the traditional practice of the grinding the spices in mortar and pastel, rather than machine-grinding process, which gives the unique tang to the spices and subsequently to the food they are added to. This is the big reason why blended powders, curry powder of spices and ground spices like organic garam masala powder provides a unique and exquisite flavour and aroma to the spices.

From giving a tangy and seasoning taste and smell to the food, to use for medicinal properties in various ways, to use as mouth refreshing agents, food preservation, and much more; spices have a big role to play all across the globe.

And the present focus of moving from the industrial or machinery based process to organic farming practices to cultivate naturally enhanced spices like organic haldi powder and more, the pungent of spice is only about to grow in essence and whiff.

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