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L For Long Pepper - An Underrated Spice

L For Long Pepper - Vibhu & Me
For obvious reasons, I don't like readymade spices. That packed, turmeric, Red Chili, Coriander and Garam Masala add as such no taste to the food except giving the color (which I also feel is artificial). However, like most of the urban kitchens, my kitchen also has a few of them. Like, readymade turmeric and red chili powder. As the matter of fact, both ground and whole spices have their unique significance. Whole spices keep their flavor longer than ground, but ground spices are easier to cook with as they take less time for the flavor to go into the food. Also, we can create a blend of spices with powdering them along. That's why Coriander powder and Garam Masala I make myself. I make them in small quantity and keep them in an airtight container so that spices can preserve their aroma for a longer time.

Traditionally, it is adviced to powder spices in mortar and pestle, so that they slowly release their heat. Whereas when we grind them in our new age mixers, spices tend to release heat in one shot and with that, they also lose the aroma and taste. Last time when I visited a spice store, I was looking at Garam Masala Mix. I smelled all of them. And one individual spice made me feel heaven. It was not Cinnamon, neither the Cardamom nor star anise. It was Long Pepper which has been used for a specific reason in my family since long.

L For Long Pepper
Long Pepper Fruit (Credit: Google Image search)
As the name says, it is a pepper but not round. It is sometimes called Indian Long pepper as it is assumed native to India. But the local name of spice is Pippli. Long pepper has a similar taste to its close relative Black Pepper, from which black, green and white pepper are obtained. Long Pepper also has a strong spicy taste. But its flavor is much more complex and distinct than black pepper. Long pepper possesses black pepper's heat and musk, but in a less harsh form. Its taste lingers on the tongue with a coolness. All part of the Long Pepper plants, including its root and fruit, are useful. And what we add to Garam Masala Mix is the dried fruit of the plant.

The absence of Long pepper in everyday culinary use is an injustice to this spice, and ancient spice trade is set responsible for it. Long pepper was highly prized in ancient times for both its medicinal and culinary uses, but it was eclipsed by black pepper when the spice became cheaper and more easily available. In my family, Pippli is given to new mothers with milk to improve lactation. It is often added in Jaggery Laddoos that are supposed to heal new mother after the delivery.

History of Long Pepper
A native of northeast India, Long pepper traveled both east to China and west to Europe, where its warming and digestive traits were very much known to medieval cooks. Roman author Pliny the Elder quoted Long Pepper saying "We only want it for its bite and we will go to India to get it!". Later, in the 14th century, Jehan de Mandeville, the author of The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, described the Long pepper as looking "something like the flower of a hazel tree" which is a description we still use today for describing the spice. Even Indian Ayurvedic texts praised its ability to "provoke phlegm and wind, being pungent and hot, capable of increasing the semen". Until the 16th century, Long pepper was a precious commodity in the global spice trade.

By late in the 15th century, the price of Long pepper dropped. Its easy availability made people ignore this spice. With a new hot spice in the market, people found their interest in trying it. This new child was Chili which was easy to cultivate everywhere. It added fire and color, both, on the  European market, which long pepper couldn’t compete. Also the Arabic traders, for making more profit, exaggerated the use of black pepper and the demand for Long pepper dropped sharply.

Ayurvedic Benefits of Long Pepper
As per ancient Ayurvedic texts, Pippli (Long Pepper) has all the qualities of a spice and contains a medicinal value in treating stomach issues, asthma, and cough. But it also has some unique virtues. Long Pepper is a great aphrodisiac and anti-aging spice. Srusuta and Vagbhata mentioned two types of Long Pepper :
1. Pippali called Chhoti Pippali commonly and preferred in Ayurvedic medicines
2. Gaja Pippali called Badi Pippali

Ayurveda states that the spring season is the main time of year for Kapha dosha to rise. So adding Pippli (Long Pepper) in the diet is a great addition to combat the common issues that this season brings. Unlike its close relative, black pepper, Pippali can even be used in moderation for Pitta due to its cooling, post-digestive effect. That is why Pippli is also called "tridoshic" herb. Other benefits of Pippli are:
  • Increases digestion
  • Reduces gas and bloating
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Rejuvenative (especially for the lungs)
  • Treats cough, asthma, hiccups, and all respiratory infections
  • Benefits anemia, liver, gallbladder, and spleen issues
  • Treats menstrual disorders 
  • Reduces Vata Nervous System disorders (anxiety, fear, worry, etc.)
  • Enhances the memory and intellect 
  • Useful in arthritis (especially gout and Rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Increases fertility (both men and women)
Dadi Maa Ka Nuskha
Take about 1 to 2 grams of the Long pepper, fry it in a little bit of ghee. Once cool, mix Long pepper powder and honey and swallow it to relieve a sore throat.

How to buy
Ask your shopkeeper for giving Badi Pippli or Long Pepper. Smell its aroma and try it in place of black pepper. I am sure you would be amazed by its unique taste.

(I am taking part in #BlogchatterA2Z and today’s letter is 'L'.)

You can read my other #BlogchatterA2Z posts here :
  1. A For Alkanet Root - A Magical Spice
  2. B For Black Salt - A Digestive Stimulant
  3. C For Cinnamon - God of Spices
  4. D for Dried Ginger - A More Beneficial Form of Ginger
  5. E For Edible Silver and Gold Foils
  6. F For Fennel Seeds - More Than A Mouth Freshener
  7. G for Green Cardamom - The Queen of Spices
  8. H For Holy Basil - The King of Herb
  9. I For Indian Gooseberry - A Super food
  10. J For Jaggery - A Medicinal Sugar
  11. K For Kalpasi - An Unknown Treasure 
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Comments

  1. This is also called piprimul in hindi or ghanthola on Gujarati. I had on pregnancy and post pregnancy for strength and lactation.

    ReplyDelete

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