Spices from India

Spices from India have been the soul of global cuisine since time immemorial. Indians have been well versed with growing spices and also with their culinary and medicinal applications much before the rest of the world. The lure of these spices has led to historic explorations, wars and conquests and the country continues to retain its stature as the Spice Bowl of the World.

Spices from India

Spices from India have been the soul of global cuisine since time immemorial. Indians have been well versed with growing spices and also with their culinary and medicinal applications much before the rest of the world. The lure of these spices has led to historic explorations, wars and conquests and the country continues to retain its stature as the Spice Bowl of the World.

Tea
coffee
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Spice up your wellness quotient

Kavitha Srinivasa

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Opening the spice jar is like opening a Pandora's Box, which springs in surprises and seems to have no boundaries. The texture, rich colour and flavour of spice trigger off several reactions that go beyond lip smacking food platters. This time, the spice jar led me on to the Wellness segment. Yes, you are right; I'm looking at massage oils, candles and many other things which help you unwind and lift your mood.

The lifestyle and wellness segment has cleverly used spice extracts and oils to enhance the visual and olfactory experience, and with this, come moments of relaxation. Come let's pamper ourselves with the essence of spices, the sought after ones being pepper, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and cloves (not necessarily in that order).

A case in point is the Ananda Spa in the Himalayas, whose portfolio includes the Ananda Spice Body Oil. This body oil contains the essential oils of cardamom, ginger and black pepper. The potions are blended with wheatgerm oil and sunflower oil. The result is an aromatic nurturing oil rich in vitamins, protein and minerals, and relieves muscle aches.

Moving on, let's not forget that the spicy notes of a perfume are derived from spice jars. International perfumers create their signature concoctions with extracts of vanilla, cinnamon and camphor. These spices with floral and woody extracts give perfumes that sense of mysticism and sensuality. Why just international perfume brands, even our ittar can't do without spices. Traditional ittar shops blend spice with floral extracts to create lingering desi fragrances which have been a hit with Indian royalty and our politicians. A case in point is Gulab Singh Johrimal, a legendary ittar shop in Delhi's Chandni Chowk that dates back to 1816. The store has been using spicesas a basefor its dhoop and incense sticks since the last 60 years. "We use spices like clove, cinnamon and juniper leaf. We re-fuse leftovers after the extraction of essential oils from many spices, whose use is permissible under the Wildlife Act and are economically viable for making incense sticks and dhoop," said Mukul Gundhi, the seventh generation descendent of Gulab Singh. Obviously these spices make a difference to the dhoop and incense sticks. "The use of spices is going on since inception of incense making but the use and choice of products has been changing with time," explained Gundhi.

Like perfumes and ittars, scented candles too trigger emotional or psychological responses thanks to the essential oils, floral and spice combos. Ground nutmeg and cinnamon are not just natural sources for candles, but also give sweet and spicy hints. Sometimes these candles end up smelling delicious and make precious keepsakes. Delhi's candle designer Sabbah Sheikh was one of the early birds to pick up the flavours of spices, beginning with cinnamon about 14 years ago. "We have a hi-end range of designer candles wherein we use real or natural clove oil extract. We have tapped the medicinal value of clove and this candle is suited for meditation as it is therapeutic," added Sheikh, who has created the brand of Illuminati Candles. There's also an affordable range made with the synthetic fragrance of cloves. The designer embellishes candles with an assortment of spices including cardamom, star anise and chilli. Many of these candles add adornment to hotels.

Spices pack in the goodness of health and we all know about it. But what's new is that almost the entire wellness segment has lapped it up so beautifully. They've tweaked the health factorof spices and created products that are high on the wellness quotient. The brand value of these products stems from the visual, olfactory and sensory experience. All thanks to a heady concoction of spices.

For this reason, spas rely on spices based massage oils, many of which are signature creations. It's the combo of spices which makes the difference. The same can be said of candles and perfumes. Though many of these spices originated from India they have been so beautifully integrated into international spa products and perfumes. Sometimes it becomes difficult to trace the origin.

For a change shall we say, the whiff of spice instead of fragrance?

Friends and folks, here's wishing you a Happy New Year. Have a wonderful year ahead.

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Jan 092015

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