People along the Mediterranean and as well as the Egyptians enjoyed the spices of India and Africa. Later the Arabs continued the search for spices and the Romans developed a keen taste for the spices of the East. Trips to obtain spices sometimes lasted as long as five years. Later the Silk Route connected traders to China and wonderful cargos such as spices, perfumes, cosmetics, medicine and cooking transformed many homes. The spice trade is very ancient indeed. The introduction of steamed ships made the trips for the exotic products both obtainable and enjoyable for most Europeans. The traders from many lands competed with each other for the wonderful specialties from foreign lands. With the travels of the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, the search for the exotic spices and goods, colonialism dominated the world for 4-500 hundred years. One of the greatest companies to trade with the East was the Dutch East India Company, which traded for two decades. When this company went bankrupt, the monopoly they had created with spices dissipated.
Today the trade in spices is no longer a monopoly of a few. Traders buy and sell on the open markets, and are selling directly to companies in the food sector of the economy. Farms grow spices with rich aroma and taste. Quality control is important in the production of spices and experts select the best crops.
Drying spices is an important step in producing good quality spices. Improper drying can lead to loss of aroma and/or flavor. The drying process is best under natural sunlight. However, proper roasting also ensures good flavor and aroma. Then there is the grinding which affects the color and flavor of spices. It is important to keep the natural oils in the spices in order to maintain their flavor and taste. Excessive heat can fade the natural color of spices. Lastly, a good grinding process with a controlled temperature system is essential to retaining the flavor, taste and color of spices.
Packaging of spices in moisture proof packs is also an important factor. Spices can be packaged in cartons, polyester pouches, special bags, bottles and tins, as well as gunny bags, jute bags, and paper bags. Packaging must be designed to ensure a long shelf life and to retain the freshness, aroma and flavor of the spices.
Curries can be a combination of any number of different spices. You can combine up to 19-20 different spices to give special curry flavors. Besides mixing your own curries, special curry powders can be purchased and used in sauces, vegetables, prawn chowders, and soups.
Some ready-made curries are found as:
Extra Hot Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, etc. Curry
Popular spices which can be purchased whole are:
Chili with or without stems
Coriander Seeds Indori
Powders or Ground Spices:
There are also pickles, relishes and chutneys to accompany a curry meal, as well as breads such as poppadums, naan bread, and chapattis.
Whether you choose to buy the spices whole and grind them yourself with a pestal and mortar (pestle and mortar), buy the powders and mix them yourself, or buy the ready-made curry, it is important that you burn it off. Place the curries in a little hot oil or ghee and stir it over fairly high heat until the curry bubbles a little and elicits a curry aroma. Be careful not to burn it. After you have burned off the curry, you can add your remaining ingredients for a wonderful vegetable, seafood or meat curry.
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