Tracing History of Flavourful Indian Spices
Image Credit: Spices (Picture Courtesy: Pixabay)

The history of spices goes back to the time of origin of human civilization. Yes, you heard that right. The primitive men used to utilize flavoured herbs as spices (sweet-smelling spices) not just to make their food taste better but also for healing purposes. That is why we say, spices play a significant role in human existence. 

Various adventurous stories are surrounding the history of spices. As far as the history of Indian spices is concerned, it dates back to 7000 years ago. We are talking about the time when even Rome and Greece were not discovered. It was the lure of spices, perfumes, textiles and many others items that brought many to the shores of India. 

Legends believe that most spices have their origin in India. By 1000 BC, India, and its neighbouring country, China had a medical system based on herbal plants. Spices were grown and found in abundance in India and their prices were minimal. When Europeans found out about this, they started to trade seasonings from India breaking Arabs’ monopoly over the trade. But, for that, they were travelling through Arabian countries. Arabs did not want European countries to get easy access to spices from India and therefore spread weird tales like cinnamon is grown in deep narrow valleys that are infested with poisonous snakes and cassia, Chinese cinnamon is grown in shallow lakes, and gliding animals safeguard it. This was done to prevent the Europeans from coming all the way to India and other Asian countries for getting access to original spices by paying peanuts. Arabs also wanted to increase the tax imposed on the Europeans for travelling through their land. 

As a result, the search for a direct sea route to India and other Asian countries begun. Eventually, Vasco de Gama discovered the same via the Cape of Good Hope. Notably, Europe was introduced to Indian spices during a Portuguese expedition under Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1502.