Long pepper of Meghalaya

Grandma's Go-to Doctor — Mother Nature

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when I was recollecting my younger days in Shillong, Meghalaya. I was reminded of my grandmother and how she used locally grown herbs and spices to churn up a remedy for many ailments!

Grandma knew how to get us kids up, and off to school. As kids we loved holidays. I mean, which kid doesn’t? Any excuse not to go to school is a valid enough reason. We were no different. Coughs, colds, and stomach-aches were common enough ailments we had, or pretended to have.

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Grandma wasn’t easily fooled. She always knew when we needed ‘the medicine’.  That slimy concoction of mustard oil, turmeric powder, black pepper powder, ginger paste and powdered long pepper. A dessert spoonful of it – yes, a dessert spoonful – would be shoved down our throats. Voila! Cough, cold, throat problem, gas, magically vanished!

But boy was it tough to swallow that! School was better. Grandma wasn’t that unkind though; she used to put in a good dose of honey too, making it easier to gulp. As a Zizira explorer, born and brought up in Meghalaya, something within pushed me to find out more about Long Pepper that my grandma used!

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Long Pepper Was Popular Long Ago!

Long pepper was once widely used in cooking, even in ancient Rome, to induce a pungent taste to various dishes. But chillies from the new world and the increase in use of black pepper seem to have nudged long pepper out of kitchen shelves.

At present there seems to be a renewed interest in this spice for its unique flavour and taste. The taste lingers in the tongue. While black pepper stings, long pepper soothes.

The spikes of long pepper are ground or broken into coarse pieces and added to soups, stews, roasts and curries. It imparts complex mix of flavours like the earthiness of nutmeg, sweet note of cardamom and cinnamon. And even the spiciness of chillies, the heat of black pepper and a slight tongue-numbing taste, somewhat like that of winged prickly ash (Zanthoxylum khasianum).

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It's bitter, spicy and warming taste is perhaps due to its volatile, fragrant oils and alkaloids like piplatine, sesenine and pipla-sterol. The root contains piperine, steroids, glucosides, pipelartine and piperlongumine. The piperine in long pepper is said to fight parasites and infective agents.

The unique chemical composition of this plant extends its utility beyond the culinary to curative. In the northeast India it is also used to spice up pickles and preserves, giving them a distinctive aroma and flavour. Want to know more? Read on… Want to buy Long Pepper? Visit out eStore

Long Pepper also Known as Piper Longum

Its Botanical name is Piper Longum of the Order Piparales and Family Piperaceae. Other common names are: English: Long pepper Hindi: Peepal, pipar Other popular names are Dried Catkins, Indonesian long pepper, and Javanese long pepper In Khasi, the language of Meghalaya, it is called Sohmarit Khlaw.

Piper Longum grows mostly in deciduous to evergreen forests of Northeast and South India. In Meghalaya it thrives in the southern slopes of the Ri-War region of East Khasi Hills district where it is grown using natural means. An aromatic climber, its stem is slender and jointed, with thickened nodes. Root is large and woody.

long pepper from Meghalaya
the vine and leaves of the Indian long pepper
Leaves are about 2 to 3 inches long, dark, ovate (rounded-base and tapering-tip), and dentate (tooth- like edges), with broad, rounded lobes at the base. The flowers are monoceous, i.e. having the male and female reproductive structures in separate flowers but on the same plant.

The fruits are ovoid (broad at the base, like an egg) and look like spikes, of about the length of matchstick. Fruits are green when young, red when ripe and turn blackish-grey when dried.

The creeper flowers from May to September and the fruit is harvested in winter while still green and tender. After harvest, it is sun dried thoroughly until it assumes the typical greyish black colour. All parts of the plant are used - the Fruit, Root and Stem. Read more on Piper longum

Health Benefits of Long Pepper

Here is some curated content about the health benefits of Long Pepper, to add to what we found out first hand.
Piper Longum finds mention in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine, particularly for diseases of the respiratory tract, where the powdered fruit is used. The root is used for bronchitis, stomach ache, diseases of the spleen, and tumours etc. It also improves appetite. An infusion of the root is prescribed after child-birth to induce the expulsion of the placenta" Source

Long pepper is also said to be good for the liver, diabetes and bacterial infections, apart from a host of other benefits. Read publications of US National Library of Medicine on how it is useful for Liver and Spleen Ailments, for Diabetes, for Stomach Problems and Toothache.

In a research done at the UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists uncovered that Indian long pepper consists of a chemical compound called Piperlongumine, that has shown positive activity against cancer. 

Looking to Buy Long Pepper?

Visit our our store and check it out. We are recommending it with the confidence that comes with knowing the source of this produce and its quality. The Long Pepper in our store comes from the fields of a farmer in the East Khasil Hills district of Meghalaya and are grown organically. Should you have questions about Piper longum please Contact us. Our team will be delighted to tell you more. If you have you used this special spice of Meghalaya why not share your recipes with us.

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