Travel India Kali Mirch

  Travel India.Spices of India.Kali MirchSpices of India – My Favourite Spice      


My favourite spice is Kali Mirch.
I love to sprinkle a little powdered Kali Mirch on my buttered toast every morning.
And my wife uses it in a number of dishes.
You can see Kali Mirch plants in Spice Plantations, Coconut Plantations and Areca Nut Plantations throughout Kerala (South India), Karnataka and Goa.

The Name

The English name for Kali Mirch is Black Pepper.
The word Pepper is derived from the Sanskrit name Pippali or Pippalii.
This became Péperi in Greek and Piper in Latin.

What is Kali Mirch (Black Pepper)

Travel India.Spices of India.Kali Mirch.Fruits
Kali Mirch is produced from the green unripe berries of the pepper plant Piper nigrum, a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae.The unripe berries are cooked briefly in hot water, to clean them and to prepare them for drying.
The heat ruptures the cell walls in the fruit, speeding up the work of browning enzymes during drying.
The berries are then dried in the sun for several days, or by machine, during which the fruit around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer.
The dried fruits are called black peppercorns. These are powdered to make the table pepper.

Green Pepper, White Pepper and Red PepperTravel India.Spices of India.Kali Mirch. Different Varieties

All these are made from the Kali Mirch plant.Green Pepper is the fresh unripe green berries.
You can chew them, cook them or pickle them.
White Pepper consists of only the seed, with the fruit removed.
This is usually done by allowing fully ripe berries to soak in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the fruit softens and decomposes.
Rubbing then removes the flesh and skin, and the naked seed is dried.
Pink Pepper or Red Pepper consists of ripe red pepper berries preserved in brine or vinegar.
The ripe red peppercorns can also be dried.

Pink Pepper

However, Pink Pepper comes from Piper nigrum, which is a plant from a different family.  


The Kali Mirch plant is a perennial vine growing up to four metres in height on supporting trees, poles, or trellises.
The Kali Mirch plant likes moist, well-drained soil, rich in organic matter.
The leaves are alternate, five to ten centimetres long and three to six centimetres broad.
The flowers are small, growing on pendulous spikes four to eight centimetres long at the leaf nodes. The spikes lengthen to seven to 15 centimeters as the fruits mature.
The plants are easily propagated by 40 to 50 centimetres long cuttings, tied up to neighbouring trees or climbing frames.
The plant prefers trees with rough barks.
The plants start bearing fruit from the fourth or fifth year, and continue to bear fruit for seven years.A single stem will bear 20 to 30 fruiting spikes. Harvesting is done when one or two berries at the base of the spikes begin to turn red.

Culinary Uses

The spiciness of Kali Mirch is due to the chemical piperine.
Dried ground pepper is one of the most commonly used spices in Eastern and European cuisine .

Medicinal Uses

Kali Mirch is widely used as medicine in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medicines for such illnesses as constipation, diarrhea, ear ache, gangrene, heart diseases, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pains, liver problems, lung diseases, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay and toothaches.Kali Mirch is believed to cause sneezing.
Some people believe that the sneezing is due to irritation of the nostrils caused by piperine.
Others believe that the sneezing is simply due to the fine dust in ground pepper.


Remember that in the west, Kali Mirch is often confused with long pepper Piper longum – but the two are different. Remember also that surprisingly, Kali Mirch and other spices of India have changed the course of world history.  The Europeans came to India and the Americas in search of the spices.
Remember also, especially if you are a connoisseur of food, that once Kali Mirch is ground, it loses its aromatics pungency quite fast. Use hand held pepper mills (or ‘pepper grinders’), which mechanically grind or crush whole peppercorns, instead of pre-ground pepper.  

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