Kerala is living up to the exquisite title God's own country with so many heavenly places where you can see the divine touch of God. The lush greenery, pristine nature, gorgeous waterfalls and mighty mountains. Kerala can also be entitled as God's own Kitchen , because it can take you on a gastronomic journey with its mind blowing food items. It would not be an exaggeration if it is called India's Spice Hub. It is the spice quest that actually bought Vasco Da Gama to the beautiful land. You can only rarely find a local food without spices in Kerala. The rich cuisine is an inspired fusion of French, Malabari and Arabian influences with a touch of the unique culture of Kerala, each food is an experience. Your mouth would water with the aroma that reaches you from every street or house in Kerala. The diverse and distinct cuisine of Kerala and its tantalising flavours will keep you craving even after you return after the trip. You will only come in terms with the flavours only after a while, but later you will get hooked with the unique tastes. The international restaurant chain from Kerala have brought all those food mouth watery delights to the world. It is the interplay of flavours ,textures and taste buds igniting spices that makes you asking more food. Almost all food in Kerala is a mix of fresh coconut, green chillies, curry leaves, coconut oil, shallots and a dose of spices, everything packed with large amount of nutrients to give you a healthy palate.
Since most of the districts in Kerala comes in contact with the sea it serves as a home of enormous lip-smacking dishes prepared using seafood. Also it has a long list of other non vegetarian food including chicken, beef, duck, mutton and fish that can fill in the hungry tummy of visitors. The northern part of Kerala is rich with the culinary traditions of Malabari Muslims, the central part with outstanding credentials of vegetarian wedding cooks, scrumptious beef and seafood mainstays of Syrian Christians in central Kerala, and the south tip with flavoursome chicken dishes, all which makes Kerala truly a gourmand's delight.
Vast fortunes made and squandered, powerful rulers seduced, ailments cured, and nations discovered...all in the name of spice. Spice, a derivative of the Latin word "species," was used even during the medieval days. Our forefathers wrapped meat in the leaves of bushes, accidentally discovering that this enhanced the taste of the meat, as did certain nuts, seeds, berries and even bark.
In olden days, handful of cardamom worth as much as a poor man's yearly wages and many slaves were bought and sold for a few cups of peppercorns. According to historians, around 1000 BC Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon in Jerusalem to offer him "120 measures of gold, many spices, and precious stones."
The great Roman Empire was not outside the spell of "spices" either. Presumably, Cleopatra herself used a "very stimulating" food to seduce Caesar. Huge quantities of saffron were strewn on the streets of Rome to celebrate Nero's entrance into the city. Pepper, the spice of choice, was as omnipresent as garum iberico on the Roman tables. Without a doubt, spices had become status symbols.
From the 10th century on, the crusades prompted a rediscovery of spices; certain spices worth so much that one of them even became currency: pepper. Some spices were covered in honey in order to disguise them as candy. Their culinary and medicinal uses overlapped, and grocers and apothecarist often worked in the same companies. Besides traditional black pepper, some of the other prized spices of the era were ginger cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Arab traders were the first to introduce spices into Europe. Realizing that they controlled a commodity in great demand, the traders kept their sources of supply secret and made up fantastic tales of the dangers involved in obtaining spices.
Arab traders were the first to introduce spices into Europe. Realizing that they controlled a commodity in great demand, the traders kept their sources of supply secret and made up fantastic tales of the dangers involved in obtaining spices. Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492 to head West and find gold and spices, hoping to hit the Indian coast where these precious commodities could be found. For the Portuguese and Spanish, controlling and supplying the spice market and overturning the Arab and Venetian monopoly in the Mediterranean were key objectives.
In 1497, Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and headed east. A year later, he anchored off the Malabar Coast in South India. The Arab merchants were shocked to see a Portuguese man on Indian shores. "We are looking for Christians and spices," stated the Portuguese navigator, and with that, the Arabs saw their monopoly crumble. In the centuries to follow, often the country with the strongest navy was able to gain dominion over the areas where spices originated. The Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and British empires all enjoyed leading roles in running the spice routes for a time. In fact, the last of these great spice monopolies, the Dutch, remained in existence until the outbreak of World War II.
In the late 17th century, America benefited indirectly from the spice trade. Boston-born Elihu Yale grew up in England, where he worked as a clerk for the British East India Company, which held a monopoly on all trade with India. Yale eventually became the Governor of Fort St George (later Madras and, now, Chennai) in India, and his spice fortune helped endow Yale University.
Spices have now become an integral part of our daily life. At Spice Junction, our chefs have put together a selection from the cuisine of Kerala and Goa, where spices make their presence felt across a variety of dishes, each true to its native origins. Tradition and experience together determine the combination of spices used for a particular regional style. In the right combination, spices transform each dish into a savoury maze of unforgettable flavour, colour and aroma.