Spices Details

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The dried fruit of a small herbaceous plant, cumin was quite popular even during the Biblical times as an efficient digestive and as a food flavour for ceremonial feasting. Though native to Egypt and the Mediterranean, cumin is now mostly produced in India.

Cumin has an intensely strong flavour, much similar to caraway. Indian cumin finds worldwide use in foods, beverages, liquors, medicines, toiletries and perfumery. The spice is of particular value in the blending of Indian curry powder. Indian cumin grows abundantly in the mild, equable climate of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh where rich, well-drained, sandy, loamy soil and the sunny, conducive environment are available. The quality is better by the organic cultivation adopted by Indian farmers. Indian cumin is exported in its natural as well as powdered form, besides as essential oil. Exports are mostly to USA, Singapore, Japan, UK and North Africa.

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A native of the Mediterranean, coriander is the dried ripe fruit of an annual herb with several branches and serrated leaves. The name 'coriander' is based on the Greek work 'kopis' which means 'bug'. The whole plant, when freshly bruised, gives out a peculiarly strong, rather obnoxious odour similar to that associated with bugs.

Happily, when the plant grows and matures, these disagreeable traits are wholly lost and the ripe fruits are completely free from them. A fragrant spice, coriander is today valued as much for its medicinal properties as for its use as a condiment. It finds extensive application in several kinds of foods, beverages, liquors and perfumes. Coriander requires full exposure to sunlight but with less heat and medium-to-heavy loamy soil, good drainage and well-distributed moisture. Since many parts of India meets all these conditions, coriander is a thriving crop in this country. Since the Indian farmers prefer organic cultivation, the quality is good. The major producers of Indian coriander are Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Madhya Pradesh.

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Fenugreek is one of the earliest spices known to man. Ancient Egyptians used it as a food, medicine and an embalming agent. The ripe, dried fruit of a quick-growing annual leguminous herb, fenugreek has a strong, pleasant and quite peculiar odour reminiscent of maple. Traditionally, fenugreek grows best in well-drained loams with a low rainfall.

In India, this spice is often cultivated as a cover crop in citrus-fruit groves to take advantage of their leguminous nature. The major producers of Indian fenugreek are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Commercially known as 'Methi', Indian fenugreek comes in several well-known varieties such as 'Desi' and 'Champa'. The spice is exported in its whole and powdered forms as well as in the form of extracted oil which is extensively used in perfumery. The major importers of Indian fenugreek are Saudi Arabia, Japan, Malaysia, USA, The UK, Singapore and Sri Lanka.