History Of Black Pepper In India; Origins, Production And Uses
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Black pepper is one of those spices that lies in the centre of Indian cuisine. The interpretation of black pepper in Indian cuisine is quite versatile, and it is used as a mainstream condiment in the preparation of multiple Indian dishes. Black pepper has a very strong flavour and can potentially give taste to even the most mundane dishes. It is equally prevalent in the rest of the world as it is in India. In India, black pepper is extensively grown in the Malabar region, while for the longest time, many historians have believed that black pepper is only grown in Kerela.

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The story of black pepper in India began at least 4000 years ago. Multiple archaeologists in India believe that black pepper has been consumed in the Indian subcontinent since 2000 BC. Egypt has been using black pepper since 1200 BC, and the main usage of the spice was not for food but for mummifying purposes. Pepper can be classified as one of the most ancient traded spices. In fact, from 1000 BC onwards, pepper was being transferred from India to West Asia.

The Dominance In Malabar

Black pepper is a very important part of Malabar's culture. Upon visiting the Malabar coast of India, people will understand how many regional stories and folktales are associated with the cultivation of pepper. Many people, even up to this day, believe that in ancient times, pepper cultivation was guarded by dragons and other mythical creatures. All these out-of-the-world stories have added more to the popularity of black pepper in that area.

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In many parts of Rome, black pepper was considered a status symbol and was of use as a currency. Most of the black pepper consumed by the people of Rome in ancient times was imported from the Malabar region. Huge ships were used to cover the Malabar port area, and hundreds of kilograms of black pepper were taken back to Rome. Black pepper has been a matter of attraction for people for a very long time. It wasn't as accessible for most people as it is these days. After the fall of the Roman Empire, there was a disturbance in the pepper trade between India and Rome.

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Portuguese And British Influence

Looking closely at Portuguese and British cuisine, one will understand the dominance of black pepper in the various dishes cooked in these cuisines. Portuguese had been one of the biggest importers of black paper for many years. At one point in history, the Portuguese were trading 2 million pounds of black pepper every year. This accounted for 70% of the total black pepper in the world. In India, pepper remained an important spice for all these years. There have been multiple mentions of pepper in a lot of historical books, including Ain-i-Akbari, which is the biography of Akbar. 

After Vascodagama was successfully able to reach India, he got his hands on the ancient Indian treasure that is the spice of India. Chillies that are native to South America were introduced in India in the 16th century. After the introduction of chillies in India, the popularity of black pepper struggled to sustain for a while. But even then, the peppet has been a very strong structural stone of Indian cuisine for the longest time.

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Black Pepper Production In India

In India, Karnataka is the largest producer of black pepper. Previously, Kerala was the largest producer state but now it has been dethroned by Karnataka. Around 36% of the total black pepper in India is produced in Karnataka. Tamil Nadu is another popular state in India which is known for its black pepper production. Currently, most of the black pepper that is cultivated in India is exported to countries like the US, the UK and Canada.

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In India, a variety of special dishes are prepared by using black pepper. In the southern part of India, a lot of special curries and dishes are prepared using an abundance of black pepper. Andhra Pradesh Chicken is one of the most famous recipes that uses black pepper. In India, black pepper is used for medicinal purposes and to treat skin-related problems. Many people also like to use the oil extracted from black pepper for cooking purposes. Having black pepper on a regular basis is believed to improve metabolism. However, it is also important to consume black pepper in moderation as it is a strong spice and may have a lot of side effects on the body.