Turmeric is the boiled, dried, cleaned and polished rhizomes of Curcuma longa. The plant is a herbaceous perennial, 60-90 cm high, with a short stem and tufted leaf. There are 7 to 12 leaves, the leaf sheaths forms the pseudo stem. The lamina is green above and pale green below and has a length of 30-40 cm and width 8-12 cm. Inflorescence is a central spike of 10-15 cm length. 1-4 flowers are born in axil of the bract opening one at a time. About 30 flowers are produced in a spike. Turmeric is used to flavour and colour foodstuffs. It is a principal ingredient in curry powder. Turmeric oleoresin is used in brine pickles and to some extent in mayonnaise and relish formulations, non-alcoholic beverages, gelatins, butter and cheese etc. The colour curcumin extracted from turmeric is used as a colourant.
Cardamom of commerce is the dried ripe fruit (capsules of cardamom plant) often referred as the “Queen of Spices” because of its very pleasant aroma and taste. Cardamom is a perennial, herbaceous, rhizomatous plant. Based on the nature of panicles, three varieties are recognised viz. Malabar with prostrate panicle, Mysore with erect panicle, and Vazhukka with semi erect panicle. in In case of Malabar,plants are of medium size (2 to 3 mtr height) with pubescent leaves (on the dorsal side) and fruits globose, whereas plant robust (3 to 4 mtr height) with leaves glabrous on both sides with ovoid capsules in the case of Mysore. Vazhukka variety is a mix of both the above in physical characteristics. Cardamom usually add a lingering sparkle to every kind of dish both traditional and modern. It is also used in baked goods and confectionaries.
Large Cardamom is a perennial herb with subterranean rhizomes and 50-140 aerial leafy shoots. Each shoot has a height of 1.7 to 2.6 mtr and possess 9 to 13 leaves in each tiller. Leaves are glabrous on both sides with a prominent mid-rib. Inflorescence is a condensed spike with yellowish perianth. Each spike has 10-15 fruits. Fruit is round or oval in shape, with the capsule having a reddish brown colour. Each capsule is trilocular with many seeds. It is used as a flavourant in dishes like meat preparations. It is an ingredient in curry powder and spice masala mixtures and is also used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicines. It has applications in flavouring cola, biscuits and liquors.
Chilli is the dried ripe fruit of the genus Capsicum. Capsicum annuum is an annual sub –shrub, the flowers of which are borne singly and fruits usually pendent, which provide red peppers, cayenne, paprika and chillies and sweet pepper (bell pepper) a mild form with large inflated fruits.
Capsicum frutescence is a perennial chilly with small sized pods which are highly pungent. It is commonly known as ‘bird chilly’ and ‘Tabasco’.
Dry chilly is extensively used as spice in curried dishes. It is also used as an ingredient in curry powder and in seasonings. Bird chilly is used in making hot sauces as pepper sauce and Tabsco sauce.
Paprika, Bydagi chilly, Warangal chapatta and similar high colour less pungent varieties are widely used for colour extraction. This colour is highly popular among food and beverage processors for its use as a colourant, as it is a ‘natural plant colour’.
Black Pepper is the dried mature berry of Piper nigrum, a climbing, perennial shrub mostly found in hot, moist region of Southern India. Under cultivation, pepper vines are trailed over support as columns, 5-6 mtr tall, 1-2 meter diameter. The climbing woody stems have swollen nods with clinging roots at each node, which helps in anchoring the vine to the support trees (standards). It has straight upward growing main stem and have lateral shoots from the axils of the leaves having shorter inter nodes without adventitious roots. In such branches the terminal buds get modified into an inflorescence (spike) and the auxiliary buds continue further growth.
Pepper is largely used by meat packers and in canning, pickling, baking, due to its preservative value. It has the ability to correct the seasoning of dishes, therefore is used as a final dash at the end of cooking to effectively adjust the flavour. It is an important component of culinary seasoning of universal use and is an essential ingredient of numerous commercial foodstuffs. It is also used as an ingredient in spice mixes.
Cumin is the dried, white fruit with greyish brown colour of a small slender annual herb. The surface of the fruit has 5 primary ridges, alternatively has 4 less distinct secondary ridges bearing numerous short hairs. The plant is 15 to 50 cm high. The aromatic seed like fruit is elongated, ovoid, 3 to 6 mm long, slightly bitter and has a warm flavour. The flowers are white or rose coloured in small umbels.Cumin seed have an aromatic odour and bitter taste. It is used as a condiment, and is an ingredient in curry powders, seasonings of breads, cakes and cheese.
Japanese Mint (Mentha Arvensis) is a perennial herb with creeping root stalk and an erect stem, 1-2 quadrangulate branched with short dense hair. Leaves are 2.5 – 5cm long, oblong-ovate. Flowers are in auxiliary whorls, none at the top. Plant rises to a height of 0.4-0.8 mtr.
Mint is used for flavouring meat, fish, sauces, soups, stews, vinegar, tea, tobacco and cordials. The mint oil is used for the production of natural menthol; dementhalised oil is used for flavouring mouth washes and tooth paste.