Kerala has prospered as a major spice trade center from as early as 3,000BC. Due to the spice trade, the ports of Muziris (18 miles from modern-day Kochi) were among the busiest among all trades in the history of the world. It was in Kerala, in particular, Kappad Kozhikode, that Vasco Da Gama first discovered the spice trade during the age of European discovery in 1498. Spice and Kerala are inseparable, hence what is more prudence than doing a spice plantation tour in Kerala.
Not far from Greenwoods Hotel Thekkady, which was the hotel where I stayed, there was a spice plantation that organized spice plantation tour by the name of Ravi’s Farm, Thekaddy. Roughly it was 15 minutes from the Greenwoods Hotel.
The God’s Own Country emits the delicate scents of different spices. At least, it was how I felt when I disembarked from the bus. Soon enough, the entourage was led into the spice plantation.
Some ogled at the hanging jackfruit, the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. In Kerala, the jackfruit is used to make chips and local dishes. We have jackfruit in Malaysia, we call it cempedak.
How many types of ground pepper are there in the world? One? Two? Three?
There are three types generally know as black pepper, green pepper and white pepper. Interestingly, you can find all three types of pepper in one tree because the black pepper is the cooked and dried unripe fruit, green pepper is the dried unripe fruit and the white pepper is actually the ripe fruit seeds. So, the time when you pick the fruits and how you treat them is important to determine what types of pepper they would become.
During the spice plantation tour, I got the chance to see how peppers are picked. I hope I wasn’t a nuisance to the pepper pickers. They were all smiles and helpful when I asked for pictures. Apparently the pepper pickers have to climb the ladder to pick the peppers. Quite a tongue twister there.
Once a prized and costly spice in European medieval cuisine and valuable commodity traded by the Arab, nutmeg is the only tropical fruit that provides for two different spices. Nutmeg or “buah pala” is one type, meanwhile mace, the red covering of the seed is another.
In between, I bumped into a spider web!
Cocoa or cacao is not a spice. But the cocoa powder is sometimes mixed with spices to produce cocoa products. We were shown the inside of cocoa pod. Cocoa is the main ingredient for chocolate.
We saw wild ginger, turmeric, onion and many others.
After the spice plantation tour in Kerala, I gained a lot of knowledge on spices, especially how they look like on trees before they are dried for packaging.
This trip is made possible by #keralablogexpress from 15-29 February 2016. Silk Air flies from Singapore to Thiruvananthapuram 4 times weekly; from Singapore to Kochi 9 times weekly. For further info : www.silkair.com