Peppercorns are usually called as pepper in India. I mentioned this because people get confused when we refer to it as pepper in recipes. Scientific name of pepper is piper nigrum. They grow to a vine. The leaves look similar to betel leaf but slightly rough and not edible. We have 3-4 pepper plants in our garden which are twined against jackfruit trees.
Pepper is also called as Mareech in Sanskrit, Meeri in Marathi, Kaali mirchi in Hindi, Miriyalu in Telugu, Milagu in Tamil and Karimenasu or Menasinakaalu in Kannada, Miryakan in Konkani. It is popular as ‘black gold’ in international market. It is grown in wet and hot weather with heavy rains.
India is one of the main countries which grow pepper. It is collected from the plants (creepers) from December to March. Malayesia, Brazil, Indonesia, Sri Lanka,Thiland and Vietnam are the other nations which grow pepper. Pepper is liked by many because of its aroma and spicy taste. It contains a chemical called pepparine which gives spicy taste to the fruits. It is used extensively in Indian cuisine. It is also used for medicinal purpose.The fruit (grain ) is 2-4 mm in diameter. It is dark green in colour and becomes yellow and later red after ripening. It grows in bunches of 10 -15 cms length.
After collecting the pepper (green,yellow or red ) they are kept in water for 1 – 2 weeks.The outer skin becomes soft and could be removed easily by rubbing. This way we get white pepper which can be dried in hot sun and stored in containers. We get black pepper when the collected fruits are dried directly without soaking in water.
- We use pepper kashay to get rid of cold. We add pepper powder, turmeric powder and sugar to boiling milk and drink it to get relief from bad throat in cold before sleeping.
- Pepper powder is used with salt and ghee for getting rid of indigestion.
- Pepper kashay with ghee is used in Rheutism. (joint pain)
- Application of pepper helps to get rid of pimples.
- White pepper is used with hot water for patients suffering with constipation.
- Application of pepper helps in releiving pain from sprain.
- Pepper also helps in heart diseases and piles.
We use white/black pepper extensively in many dishes. I make a special kind of amla(gooseberry) pickle from unripe peppercorns. It is liked by all in our family. The distinct flavor of this pickle comes from the unripe, green peppers.