The Spice Island, Sri Lanka
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The Spice Island, Sri Lanka

Let the untold be told!

Rich Spice Culture Of Sri Lanka

Ceylon Spices were very nearly an aphrodisiac for The Portuguese, Dutch and British. History records that The Portuguese held a stronghold, over the spice trade of then Ceylon. The tradition of considering Ceylon Spices like a wealth of Gold was followed by The Dutch too. Ceylon Spices traded throughout history including cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, turmeric, lemongrass, nutmeg and mace, curry leaves, ginger and pepper. After gaining independence in 1948, and being named Sri Lanka, the country is still considered the heaven of all spices.

Ceylon Spices Heal

Many of these spices contain healing properties. Curry leaves are known to be anti-diabetic and are a staple in South East Asian cuisine. Turmeric has gained a reputation as a 'superfood' due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Westerners have come up with different uses for this super spice including being a substitute for coffee.

The Spice Island, Sri Lanka

All spices are used in food preparation and Sri Lanka is a country with rich and exotic dishes, spices are a key ingredient. The right combination of spices can elevate taste buds to another level. In Sri Lanka, spices don’t start and end in the culinary arts. Sri Lankan spices are known to be used in herbal medicines, Ayurveda, modern medicinal technology, personal care and cosmetics by Sri Lankan and international manufacturers.

The tourism industry has taken the spice opportunities to their utmost benefit with spice gardens springing up in different parts of the country, attracting a large number of tourists specifically for the spice experience. The spice experience would include strolls around gardens of different spices, visits to manufacturing plants, experience herbal teas, as well as indulging in Ayurveda treatments using concoctions, pastes, oils and baths of spices.

Resulting from the rich soils and the warm tropical climate, the spice cultivation of Sri Lanka prospers. The spices have acquired a popularity for their heavenly aroma, lavish flavour, unique colour, high quality and overall richness.

A Glimpse Into The Sri Lankan Spice Trade

Sri Lanka is known in history as one of the original Spice Island’s. The trade originated in the Galle area where the Portuguese had built their amazing fort which stands majestically to this day. This spice trade has shaped the culture and heritage of Sri Lanka.

Wars were fought for the control of the Ceylonese trading channels. Peacocks, gems, ivory and spices being the interest, and among all these elements, Cinnamon was the most important.

Earliest forms of demand for Sri Lankan spices were recorded by Arabs who travelled to Sri Lanka specifically to set up trading posts. The aromatic, rich Sri Lankan spices were a necessity to perfect the delectable Arabic cuisine.

The Arab monopoly was taken down by the Portuguese, led by Lorenzo De Almeida, a famous explorer from the 15th Century who is still a well-known patron of the history of Sri Lanka. This feuds followed and the power of the Spice realm was taken over next by Dutch, Spanish and finally by the English. Each party held the power for long periods during which there have been many profitable experiences.

Sri Lanka is known in history as one of the original Spice Island's. The trade originated in the Galle area where the Portuguese had built their amazing fort which stands majestically to this day. This spice trade has shaped the culture and heritage of Sri Lanka.

Wars were fought for the control of the Ceylonese trading channels. Peacocks, gems, ivory and spices being the interest, and among all these elements, Cinnamon was the most important.

Earliest forms of demand for Sri Lankan spices were recorded by Arabs who travelled to Sri Lanka specifically to set up trading posts. The aromatic, rich Sri Lankan spices were a necessity to perfect the delectable Arabic cuisine.

The Arab monopoly was taken down by the Portuguese, led by Lorenzo De Almeida, a famous explorer from the 15th Century who is still a well-known patron of the history of Sri Lanka. This feuds followed and the power of the Spice realm was taken over next by Dutch, Spanish and finally by the English. Each party held the power for long periods during which there have been many profitable experiences.

Currently, the export industry of Sri Lanka is well nourished by the Spices grown on the island. Prominent areas of the south-western coastal belt ranging from Negombo to Matara and central country land around Matale and Ratnapura are where the majority of the commercial spice plantations thrive. The rich soils, the diverse microclimates and the enhancing temperature variations are the combinations of elements that produce the most ambient, aromatic and pure spices on the island. This is the secret of the inherent quality of Sri Lankan spices and the very lucrative Sri Lankan spice trade.

Culinary Art

Being a country with a unique history and culture, Sri Lankan cuisine is also known for the spicy and exciting flavour combinations, all a culmination of using the right Sri Lankan spice.

Sri Lanka has a very unique cuisine. The authentic ways of preparing fresh vegetable curries enhanced with fresh turmeric powder, a dash of chilli powder, cinnamon sticks and curry leaves will be the accompaniment to many Sri Lankan staples especially rice, bread, string hoppers, etc. This beautiful country also boasts of authentically prepared meat dishes, like black pork curry, fish ambul thiyal (fish marinated in ground goraka paste, pepper and salt) and spicy chicken curry. Heating spices in oils and fats, elevate the flavour and the aroma, adding exquisite dimensions and depths to the flavour of these vegetable and meat dishes.

Most of these recipes are generational hand me downs; taught by elders to the new generations. No matter the advancement of cooking techniques, the ancient family recipes are to die for. The effect of the Sri Lankan spices on the authentic culinary art of Sri Lanka is countless and timeless.