A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for the purpose of flavouring, and indirectly for the purpose of killing and preventing growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Many of the same substances have other uses in which they are referred to by different terms….e.g., in food preservation, medicine,religious rituals,cosmetics,perfumery or as vegetables. For example, turmeric is also used as a preservative; garlic as a vegetable and nutmeg as a recreational drug.
Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are leafy, green plant parts used for flavouring purposes. Herbs such as basil or oregano, may be used fresh and are commonly chopped into smaller pieces; spices , however, are dried and usually ground into a powder.
Spices have been prominent in human history since their inception. Spices were among the most valuable items of trade in the ancient and the medieval world. The culinary use of spices originated in the Indian sub continent and South-East Asia. Spices were among the most luxurious products in the middle ages, the most common being black pepper, cinnamon,nutmeg,ginger and cloves. They were all imported from plantations from Asia and Africa and were extremely expensive. The value of these goods(a 1000 tons) was the equivalent of a year’s supply of grain for 1.5 million people!!!
A quote from ‘The Lure and lore of spices’ seems so apt…
“If the appearance of spices were to reflect their real importance in the history of the world, the bottles of spices would be filled with bright glittery substances, diamonds, rubies, emeralds or gold would be appropriate.When you opened the bottle, a poof of vibrantly coloured, mystically fragrant, magical smoke would slowly billow softly throughout the room”.
Spices, both in it’s fresh and powdered form, are an integral part of my kitchen. I possibly couldn’t survive without them…well, that may be a bit far fetched…but honestly, spices do occupy a place of pride in my kitchen. Each of my recipes demand at least one spice. I think that can be said of most Indian kitchens like mine…but even in other kitchens, spices of some form or the other is usually existent.
So I was just wondering,
- Firstly, how important are spices in your kitchen…are they an absolute necessity or just something which you would just pick up once in a blue moon, or perhaps, never!!.
- Secondly, there are some spices in particular that we can’t do without and some that are there just to add a special touch. So, in your case, which are the ones that fall into these two categories.
- Thirdly, while buying spices, do you go for any particular variety…how brand conscious are you… do you get the supplies from some faraway place or just happy to lift it up from the supermarket.
- Fourthly, apart from cooking, does a particular spice have other uses in your household…
- Fifthly, does a particular spice hold any fond memories… perhaps, a dish cooked by someone special…
At present, these are a few of the thoughts that have come to my mind…probably there must be many others…. However, if reading them has already got your head nodding, and you’re already reaching for your favourite spice, then gear up to share all your feelings….in fact all your experiences, cooking or otherwise, for…
…I am planning to host a monthly event centred around ’spice’ (what else). Each month, I will choose a spice, and participants have to blog about it during that particular month and before the deadline… if possible, please try to make the particular spice of the month stand out in the dish… for it’s all about honouring their individuality.
This is going to be my first step into the world of event-hosting, and I must say that I’m a bit apprehensive…hence, treading very gingerly on this unfamiliar territory. But then, with all you wonderful people out there, I know, I’ll have a helping hand nearby whenever I’m wavering.
As for the guidelines ( refer for the months hosted at Sunita’s world only), here goes-
- Post a recipe of any kind, using the chosen spice, also, in any form you desire (seeds, powder, bark, etc.) … it would be really nice if the spice could hold it’s ground in the dish and is not overpowered by many others….after all, the post is supposed to be dedicated specially to them….other spices will have their turn in due course. Feel free to share all your thoughts and information on the chosen spice.
- Include a link back to this post for the benefit of your readers and future references.
- Email me your entry with your name, a picture,if any (250 pixels wide, height does not matter) of your dish and the permalink of your recipe by or before the announced deadline to email@example.com with the subject -Think Spice…think(the name of the spice).
- Non -Bloggers are also welcome to participate. Just e-mail me your entry with a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The round ups will be posted during the first week of the following month.
- Feel free to use the logo.
Please refer to the sidebar for the current spice of the month.
To set the ball rolling, I have chosen cumin as the spice for this month(August, 07). So, for this month, if you Think Spice…think cumin.
Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma. It can be used in many dishes as it draws out their natural sweetnesses….hence it’s popularity in many cuisines such as North African, Middle Eastern, western Chinese, Cuban, Mexican, and of course, Indian. It is also and essential ingredient of many savoury spice mixtures.
Cumin is also supposed to have medicinal properties, especially as a stimulant for appetite. More information on cumin here
As for me, this is one spice that is always present in my kitchen. I simply can’t do without it. Whether it is the seeds, which I use for tempering, or for it’s powder form, to enhance the taste of a curry, cumin does enjoy a very special status in my spice rack. So, it is no wonder that I’ve chosen it to kick start my event.
I am looking forward to see all the wonderful and various ways in which you folks are going to Think Spice… and make my humble attempt at hosting a success.
Round ups of the Think spice editions hosted so far-
August 2007-Think Cumin
September 2007-Think mustard seeds
October 2007-Think Saffron
November 2007-Think Ginger
December 2007-Think cinnamon
January 2008-Think Garlic
February 2008-Think star anise
March 2008- Break
April 2008-Think cloves
May 2008-Think cardamom
June 2008-Think Wasabi
July 2008-Think nutmeg
August 2008-Think favourite
September 2008- Think Fenugreek
June 2008- Kaykat of ‘Cooking from A to Z’(wasabi)
July 2008-Aparna of ‘My diverse kitchen’(nutmeg)
October 2008-Mimikatzchen of ‘Mimi on the move’(paprika)
November 2008 – Manuela of ‘Baking history‘(aniseed)
December 2008 – Raaga of ‘The singing chef’
January 2009 – Zlamushka of ‘Zlamushka’s spicy kitchen’
February 2009- Ivy of ‘Kopiaste, to Greek hospitality’ (mastic)
March 2009- Divya of ‘Dil se’(peppercorn)
April 2009- Dee of ‘ammalu’s kitchen’
May 2009 - Wiffy of ‘Noobcook’
June 2009 – Padmajha of ‘ Seduce your tastebuds’ (sesame seeds)
July 2009 – Apu of Annarasa
August 2009 – Sunita of Sunita’s world
September 2009 onwards- Invitations for hosting , open. Please email me at email@example.com with the respective month or months in which you are available. I will update the above list accordingly.