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Peppercorns


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.

Medicinal Uses:
- 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.

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{ 24 comments… add one }

  • Sukanya Ramkumar November 7, 2008, 9:01 pm

    Nice reading this post.

  • chanda November 7, 2008, 9:05 pm

    namaste Aayi,
    ur post on pepper is very nice.as u have mentioned it is used for constipation.can please tell how exactly to be used for my 3year old daughter who has constipation problem.ur reply will be of real help. thankyou for ur wonder ful post keep it up.& if possible tell us more about different spice & their medicinal use.thanks once again

    Varada: Chanda, it is not advised to give pepper to kids as it is very strong.
    For your child, you can give high fiber food like fruits, vegetables etc. especially bananas are very good . Usually biscuits, bread etc cause constipation in kids, so avoid them as much as possible. It is better to take advise from your doctor if the condition continues.

  • Jennifer November 7, 2008, 10:50 pm

    Really nice post!! Did not know all the uses, or names of peppercorns in different languages.
    Last year in our trip to Kerala, we learned of a new peppercorn.. it is black but peculiar in that you can crush it within your finger tips itself. It is so nice… very different
    I have a doubt about the pepper/milk drink for throat issues. Does this depend on the type of throat issue? Reason I wonder is my ayurvedic doctor mentions not to have milk during times of sore throat because it creates mucus. Does boiling the milk with pepper somehow rid the mucus inducing properties of milk. Usually during colds/stuffiness here I make a pepper rasam. It’s very helpful in clearing congestion. Thanks for sharing.

    Shilpa: Jennifer, sincerely speaking, we don’t know the answer. We have been drinking this pepper milk since our childhood whenever we had any throat infection due to cold and it has always helped us.

  • Chitra Manohar Nayak November 7, 2008, 11:05 pm

    your pepper article made me nostalgic. my mother use to make a pepper pickle with a combination of lime ginger,green chillies and salt which use go well with PEJ (rice porridge).the thought itself makes me drool.
    the pictures are beautiful . i feel like taking some from that making some fav. pickle of our family. thanks aayi

  • Lisette November 8, 2008, 12:44 am

    What love pictures.

  • Lisette November 8, 2008, 12:45 am

    Lovely pictures… :)

  • gowri November 8, 2008, 1:00 am

    Nice article mami. pickle looks so lovely. some of the Thai restruants here make curry with green pepper… its very yummy. Thanks for sharing…

  • Priya November 8, 2008, 2:33 am

    I remember eating a pickle, more like unripe pepper corns in brine once. I have been using a lot of ground pepper these days with the weather getting cold, and if they are going to keep the pimples away, then even more reason to use them :)

  • Dibs November 8, 2008, 3:56 am

    Lovely write up and photos. I live on pepper (peppercorns!), with liberal doses in every dish!

  • Divya Vikram November 8, 2008, 10:18 pm

    Great to see the plant!

  • vivari November 8, 2008, 10:22 pm

    nice post

  • nagesh kaikini November 9, 2008, 9:57 am

    A suggestion for Chanda reg. cild constipation.:

    Dried figs (as rings) is available in the market. Take 2/3 figs and keep them in a cup of warm milk for a few mnts. Let the child eat it at bedtime. This helps them over a time. Do not expect it to act as laxative/purgative the very next day. Yellow bananas also help, as Aayi suggested.

    Bst of luck.

  • Maya November 9, 2008, 6:59 pm

    What a lovely and informative post. Nice to see the whole process that the pepper goes from plant to dried one.

  • Madhu November 9, 2008, 8:29 pm

    Very inofrmative post about peppers, nice pics too.

  • Anitha November 9, 2008, 10:32 pm

    Very interesting post Mrs.Varada. Nice photography too…

  • Aruna November 10, 2008, 1:59 pm

    Very informative post, Varadpachi. I remember amma always making it a point to have pepper – turmeric milk, during those winter days or when we were down with cold and cough.

  • kunjal November 11, 2008, 1:10 am

    nice post
    can u send the recipe for kaju katri

  • Aparna November 11, 2008, 10:39 am

    Hello Aayi,

    A wonderful post and accompanying pictures.

    One question though – How does the pepper plant propagate? If I plant store-bought pepper corns in soil, would they sprout and grow?

    Thank you for a wonderful Read again!

    Shilpa: Aparna, as far as we know, a small piece of the plant needs to be planted. They don’t grow out of seeds. Though sometimes when the seeds ripen and fall, small sprouts show up on the ground but they die very soon.

  • Arun Shanbhag November 13, 2008, 11:06 am

    Namaskar Mai:
    Thank you for this wonderful tutorial on MirakaN; Love the look of the peppercorns; Your garden / Hital is such an amazing learning garden. You even taught me everything about the nutmeg on our last visit – really treasure that.

    Thank you for sharing and looking forward to more such learning experiences.
    Namaskar.

  • josh November 14, 2008, 9:51 am

    Hi..
    I am a regular visitor to your blog..got connected through Sailu’s kitchen!!
    Very nice write up here…
    I never knew those little yellow and red seed like things to the trees here are pepper!!!
    I love pepper for its varied medicinal value and use it in every preparation of mine…
    Keep posting..
    luv
    Josh

  • Selvi November 14, 2008, 2:05 pm

    Very nice post Aayi. I have one question, I live in US and miss all those plants which I had in my back yard back at home. So what I do is often plant the seeds in small pots and they do germinate (mango etc). But the pepper never germinates. I heard some one say the black pepper is boiled before packed for stores. Is that true? may be thats why it doesnt germinate?

    Shilpa: Selvi, usually peppercorns are plucked before they are totally ripened to make black peppercorns. So they will not germinate. As I mentioned earlier, you have to plant a small piece of plant.

  • Mrs Sumedha March 2, 2009, 1:34 am

    In Goan Konkani it is “MIRI” or “MIRYA” and not kan is added to it.

  • Christie March 27, 2009, 4:40 pm

    Q: Does peppercorn cure inner ear infections?

    I was in a airport struggling with a bad ear infection when an old Indian woman asked what was wrong. She told me to put peppercorn inside a cottonball into my ear for approx. 30 min. and it will draw the fluid away.

    Have you heard of this?

    Thank you.

    Shilpa: No, haven’t heard of it.

  • Kampot pepper August 30, 2010, 1:31 pm

    I just use Kampot pepper from Cambodia, it’s so delicious. My favorite pepper.

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