In Europe, cubeb was one of the valuable spices during the middle Ages. It was ground as a seasoning for meat or used in sauces. A medieval recipe includes cubeb in making sauce sarcenes, which consists of almond milk and several spices. As an aromatic confectionery, cubeb was often candied and eaten whole. Ocet Kubebowy, a vinegar infused with cubeb, cumin and garlic, was used for meat marinades in Poland during the 14th century. Cubeb can still be used to enhance the flavor of savory soups.
Cubeb reached Africa by way of the Arabs. In Moroccan cuisine, cubeb is used in savory dishes and in pastries like markouts, little diamonds of semolina with honey and dates. It also appears occasionally in the list of ingredients for the famed spice mixture Ras el hanout. In Indonesian cuisine, especially in Indonesian gulés (curries), cubeb is frequently used.
A depiction of Calicut, published in 1572 during Portugal's control of the pepper trade
Black Pepper, christened as “King of Spices” and “Black gold” is the most important and the most widely used spice in the world, occupying a position that is supreme and unique. Black pepper essential oil is stimulating, warming, comforting and cheerful. The quality of pepper is contributed to by two components. Piperine that contributes the pungency and volatile oil that is responsible for the aroma and flavor.
Ayurvedic–Maricha (Charaka, Sushruta), Vellaja, Uushana, Suvrrita, Krishna
Unani–Filfil siyaah, Filfil safed
Common method of extraction-Steam distillation of the dried, unripe fruit
Aroma-Pleasant, fresh, spicy and peppery, warm, woody
Blends well with-Sandalwood, rosemary, citrus, lavender, ginger, clove, lemon, coriander, geranium
Black pepper is a native plant of the Malabar, a region on the Western Coast of South India and originated in the tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats of India. The Malabar Coast of India was the center of the pepper trade from time immemorial. The plant is cultivated in the hot and moist parts of India, Sri Lanka and other tropical countries like Malaysia, China and Madagascar. However, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer and exporter of pepper.
Pepper belongs to family Piperaceae and genus Piper. Apart from black pepper (P. nigrum), the genus also includes economically important species like
P. longum–long pepper
P. betle–betel leaf
P. chaba–Java long pepper
P. cubeba–Cubeb, Tailed pepper
Piper nigrum is a perennial climber, climbing by means of roots which adhere to the support tree. The old stem becomes thick and produces numerous lateral branches. Runner shoots arise from the base of the vine. Leaves are thick, coriaceous, glabrous shape but much variable—commonly ovate, elliptic or elliptic lanceolate. The size varies from small to large. The base is round, acute or cordate, the tip acuminate, and tge upper surface is dark green to light green, with lower surface being dull green. The pendent spikes form inflorescence and are borne opposite the leaves on the plagiotropic branches. They are 13-15 cm long, bearing 50-150 minute flowers borne in the axils of ovate fleshy bracts. The flowers may be unisexual, with monoecious or dioecious forms, or may be hermaphrodite.
Most of the pepper oil in commerce is produced in Western Europe and North America from imported black pepper. The most important types of pepper for processing into essential oil are the Indonesian (Lampong) and Indian (Malabar). The pepper is crushed to a coarse powder and on steam distillation in which ammonia is evolved (in common with, for example, ginger, pimento and cubebs) it yields a colorless to a pale green essential oil with a mild, non-pungent flavor. Pepper oil is used in perfumery and flavorings. Black pepper oil is obtained upon steam distillation of the spice as an almost water-white or pale greenish-grey, mobile liquid, which becomes viscous on aging.
Fruits yielded piperine, piperetine and piperidine, amides-peperyline, piperoleins A and B and N-iso-butyl-cicosa-trans-2-trans-4-dienamide. The major constituent piperine (2-5%) showed CNS-depressant, antipyretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and hepato-protective properties.
Dried seeds are used in prescriptions, for cough, rhinitis, consumption, anemia, fainting.
Piper cubeba, from Köhler's Medicinal Plants (1887)