Long pepper, also known as pippali in India, is a spice that is commonly used in Indian, Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian cooking. It has often been mistaken for black pepper. But unlike its simple cousin, long pepper has a flavour that is more like a mix of spices than a single plant. There are hints of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and a sweet heat in this. You can use it to make lentil soup, add flavour to roasted meats, improve a barbecue sauce, and give lightly cooked vegetables a unique spice.
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What is long pepper?
Long pepper, also called pippali and pipli, is a small fruit that grows on a flowering vine with long, cone-shaped flower spikes. It is mostly grown in India and on the Indonesian island of Java. The fruits are about the size of a poppy seed and are used whole or ground up. They are often used instead of black, white, or green pepper. Even though long pepper is used instead of these more common peppers, it tastes more like garam masala because it has hints of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This spice has a bite that stays with you, which is why it is used in many dishes in India and southeast Asian countries.
Origin of long pepper:
Long peppers are generally harvested in India and Indonesia, mostly on the island of Java, but the plants from the two places are a little bit different. Ayurveda, a holistic health practise that has been used in India for hundreds of years, has written about long pepper in its old books. Before it was used to make food taste better, this ingredient was praised for helping people stay healthy. Even when long pepper became popular in Greece around the 6th century BCE, this all-around use of the spice stayed the same.
Long pepper was used in Greek and Roman cooking for a long time, and it also spread to other parts of Europe, where it often competed with round black pepper. But Europeans stopped caring so much about the small fruit when Spain brought chilies from the Americas and black pepper from India. Outside of India and southeast Asia, it's not a common ingredient anymore, but you can find it online and in specialty spice shops.
How does long pepper taste like?
The food that comes closest to the taste of long pepper is regular black pepper, which you can find on most dining room tables. It has the same peppery bite, but it's spicier and has a hint of earthiness and sweetness. There may also be hints of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, which makes it more interesting than plain black pepper.
It has a much more complex flavour than black pepper, more like a mix of spices like garam masala than just one spice. It has the heat and musk of black pepper, but in a less harsh, more nuanced way. Sweet notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom make it less harsh. It ends with a coolness on the tongue that reminds me of tobacco. Where black pepper burns, long pepper soothes.
Culinary uses of long pepper:
Long pepper can be used just like any other spice, especially black pepper. It can be added to soups, stirred into noodle bowls or fried rice from Southeast Asia, put into savoury pastries, and more. When using long pepper in dishes that need a smoother spice, it should be ground first. However, it can be used whole in dishes like stew or curry, which have more texture. Long pepper can be used the same way as other peppers, one for one, depending on how spicy you want your dish to be. So, Indian long pepper isn't a hot spice like chilli peppers. Instead, it has an earthy heat that spreads quickly through the mouth.
Varieties of long pepper:
Long pepper comes in two types: piper longum, which grows in India, and piper retrofractum, which grows in Indonesia and is usually cheaper and easier to find. The two spices look and taste enough alike that they can be used interchangeably. The colour makes it easy to tell them apart when they are whole. The Indian long pepper is dark brown, while the Indonesian long pepper is red. In India, the long pepper is also called pipli, which is a Hindu word. It is called dei-phlei in Cambodia, and dee-plee in Thailand.
Long Pepper Vs Grain of Paradise:
Black pepper can also be replaced with grains of paradise, also called alligator pepper. Grain of paradise are seeds, while long pepper is a fruit. Grain of paradise comes from Africa, while most long pepper comes from India. African seeds have a flavour that is woodsy, citrusy, and herbal, followed by a burst of heat that coats the mouth and then goes away. Indian long peppers, on the other hand, have more warming spices in their taste, but the heat level is the same and it wears off faster.
Whole Vs Ground
The fruit inside the long pepper flower is about the size of a poppy seed. These can be added to stews, spice mixes, grilled meats, and any other dish that calls for a coarse spice. Like its cousin, round black pepper, long pepper can be ground up in a pepper mill or crushed with a mortar and pestle. When the ingredient is refined in this way, it works well in sauces, can be used to spice up bread, and makes smoother spice blends.
How to store long pepper?
Since long pepper is usually bought dried, it is easy to keep it for months or even years in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. Keep long pepper whole to keep as much of its flavour as possible. If you grind the long pepper, try to use it up within a couple of months. It won't go bad, but the spice will lose its bite as time goes on.
Nutritional value of long pepper:
Long pepper has a lot of alkaloids, beta sitosterol, and analgesic. It also has a lot of eugenol, glycosides, piperine, resins, sugar, saturated fat, essential oil, volatile oil, piplartine, myrcene, terpenoids, quercetin, triacontane, and sylvatine. All of these are important nutrients and compounds that are found in long pepper and help your whole body work better.
Health benefits of long pepper:
Long pepper is good for your health in a lot of ways. It is good for diabetics because it helps keep the amount of sugar in the blood under control. Jaundice and other liver problems can be stopped by eating long pepper. It can help fight bacterial infections and help you lose weight. It is known as an aphrodisiac and can give you energy and libido back in the bedroom.
Long pepper is also good for treating problems with getting an erection and cramps. It makes bones healthier. Indian long pepper is also known to help when a woman is having her period and can make the process easier. It makes more oxygen flow through the body. If you have headaches and toothaches all the time, use long pepper. It works well to treat cholera and seizures.
Long pepper can be used to speed up the healing of a cough or cold, and it can also be used to lower a fever. It is good for treating diarrhoea and helps with stomach problems. It's also good for asthma.
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