(Last Updated on : 23/02/2009)
Pepper type spices are a very important and well-known spice in the culinary circle of India as well as abroad. During the olden times when pepper type spices were newly being introduced "Black Pepper" was the most expensive spice. There are many varieties of pepper. It is an indispensable ingredient of Indian cooking. Some of the important pepper type spices include black pepper, chabika, chillies and many others.
Black pepper is considered as the `King of Spices` amongst the pepper type spices as judged from the volume of international trade, being the highest among all the spices known. It is said that the European ventured new world primarily because of this spice. In addition to black pepper, pepper is also sold as pepper type spices in the processed forms like white pepper and processed green pepper.
White and black peppers are prepared from the berries of the same plant or species. The only difference is that for preparing black pepper, spikes are harvested when berries are fully mature, but unripe, i.e. when green or greenish yellow, but for preparing white pepper, the harvesting of berries is delayed until they become ripe i.e. yellowish red or red. Long Pepper is used as pepper type spices and also in pickles and preserves. They have a pungent pepper like taste and produce salivation and numbness of the mouth. In Jharkhand, the root is used to ferment rice beer. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the leaves are chewed like betel leaves. Indian long pepper is mostly derived from the wild plants, the main sources of supply being Assam, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh including Uttarakhand.
Chabika is a wild grown creeper found almost all over India, belonging to the family of pepper type spices. The plant lives long and propagates automatically through its roots. In certain locations in Bengal and North Eastern India it is added to food items for the purpose of adding flavor. Volatile oil that the fruit yield is almost identical to those of other plants of the family like pepper, betel long pepper etc. It can be used for identical purposes like flavoring food, beverages and pharmaceuticals.
Chillies are the ripe fruit of the species of genus capsicum. It is consumed as green as well as dried full or powdered in the form of pepper type spices. They are also called red peppers or capsicum and they constitute an important, well-known commercial crop used both as a condiment or culinary supplement and as a vegetable. It is virtually one of the indispensable pepper type spices in the kitchen. The varieties of chillies are broadly divided into two groups as follows: The long pungent type, including the pickling type, used as spice, and the bell shaped, non-pungent or mild, and thick fleshed type, popularly known as `Simla Mirch` which is commonly used as a curried vegetable. Paprika also belongs to the pepper type spices group.