26 September, 2020

In Meluku, East Of Eden

The story of spices is the story of temptation—and human civilisation’s rise and fall. A string of fabled, fragrant islands forms its kernel.

The Ternate island on eastern Indonesia, as seen from a seashore at Tidore
Photograph by Amitav Ghosh
In Meluku, East Of Eden
outlookindia.com
2017-01-30T12:26:56+05:30

I

At my writing desk, as in my kitchen, I find it impossible to escape the lure of spices. Their flavours enliven many of my passions: history, cookery, botany and, of course, story-telling.

Some years ago, my interest in spices spilled over into my garden and I started to grow my own turmeric, galangal, ginger, black pepper and cinnamon. The experience has taught me a great deal: I learnt, for instance, that there is a huge difference between homegrown and store-bought spices—the latter are but a pale shadow of the former. The hand-picked, sun-dried pepper from my garden in Goa has a citrusy freshness and complexity I’ve never encountered in commercial varieties.

Growing my own spices has also made me wonder why some of them are used in dried forms and some are not. Consider ginger for example: many Western recipes call for dried, powdered ginger, an ingredient that most Ind­ian cooks would consider an abomination. Yet, many who scorn dried ginger have no qualms about using dried turmeric and...

unsub

THIS ARTICLE IS PRICELESS...

To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.


More from Amitav Ghosh


Latest Magazine

October 05, 2020
content

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section