Spices and condiments are natural plant products or combinations used as food adjuncts in whole or ground form, primarily to provide flavor, aroma, and pungency to foods. It can also be used to season dishes and flavor beverages.
Spices and condiments are a significant group of horticultural products.
• India is also known as the ‘Land of Spices’.
• Queen of Spices: Small Cardamom.
• King of spices: Black pepper.
Classification of Spices
a) Based on plant parts used
• Seed: Cumin, fenugreek, coriander, fennel, ajwain.
• Bulb: Onion, garlic, leek and shallot.
• Bark: Cinnamon.
• Fruit: Chilli, cardamom, all spice and kokum.
• Leaf: Mint, curry leaf, bay leaf, chive.
• Rhizome: Turmeric, ginger
• Pod: Vanilla and tamarind
• Kernel: Nutmeg, Mace
• Floral part: Saffron
• Bud: Clove
• Latex: Asafoetida.
• Berry: Black pepper.
b) Based on economic parts
– Major spices: Major spices are spices that account for a significant portion of the global spice trade. About 75-90 percent of the total foreign exchange gained through spices comes from these spices.
Example: small cardamom, black pepper, chilli, turmeric and ginger.
– Minor spices: Excluding all these five major spices, all other are called minor spices.
Minor spices are further divided into five sub groups:
i) Seed spices: Coriander, cumin, black cumin, fennel, aniseed, celery, mustard, poppy and caraway.
ii) Bulbous spices: Garlic, onion, leek and shallot
iii) Aromatic spices: Clove, cinnamon, allspice, aniseed and nutmeg.
iv) Leafy spices: curry leaf, mint, rosemary, bay leaf, and parsley.
v) Acidulant tree spices: Tamarind, kokum.
c) Based on climate requirement of the crop
– Tropical spices: This family of spices requires a high temperature and a lot of humidity. Low temperatures are easily damaging to them.
Example: ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, kokum, small cardamom and clove.
– Subtropical spices: Three distinct seasons, winter, summer, and monsoon, are found in a sub-tropical environment.
In the winter, temperatures are cold, and in the summer, they are hot. Most spices demand a cool environment during their vegetative or early growth stages and a hot one during their reproductive stages. Turmeric and ginger are subtropical spices that are cultivated throughout the summer.
Examples: cumin, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, onion and garlic.
– Temperate spices: Spices of this type can withstand low temperature and frosty weather but are damaged easily in hot weather.
Examples: Thymes, saffron, caraway seed and asafoetida.
d) Based on origin and flavor
– Aromatic spices: Cardamom, aniseed, celery, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and cinnamon.
– Pungent spices: Ginger, chilli, black pepper and mustard
– Phenolic spices: Clove and all spice
– Colored spices: Turmeric, saffron and paprika Based on season of growth:
– Annual spices: Spices which complete their life cycle in one growing season are called annuals.
Example: coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ajowan and black cumin.
– Biennial spices: It needs two growing seasons to complete the life cycles.
Example: onion and parsley.
– Perennial spices: Perennial spices are those which live for more than two years. Example: Black pepper, saffron, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.