The Chinese used sesame seeds 5000 years ago to prepare ink blocks while the Ancient Egyptians ground the seeds to use as flour.
India produces a wide variety of sesame seeds that vary in color from white to red to black, and oil content ranging from 40% to 50%.
The white and black sesame seeds are for consumption, the brown sesame seeds are for oil extraction. White Indian sesame seeds have a nutty taste and are used for making sweets, baked foods and confectionery. Black Indian sesame seeds are used for seasoning. And the hulled seeds are used for snacks.
80% of Indian sesame seed production happens during khariff season (June- July; September - October). The rest of the crop is cultivated in the rabi season (December to March).
India’s largest Sesame producing regions are: Gujarat, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
Cumin is renowned for it’s medicinal properties in Asia.
Native to the Mediterranean, Cumin is grown in India, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, China and parts of America. India is the world’s largest cumin producer and consumer.
About 300,000 tons of cumin is produced globally worldwide, bulk of the output concentrated in Asian countries. Global demand for cumin export is estimated at around 30,000 per year.
In India, cumin is sown October-November and is harvested in February. Fresh crop reaches the market during March.
India’s largest cumin producing regions are West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.
Indian Cumin is mainly exported to Japan, Brazil, Singapore, the US and UK.
Coriander cultivation started 2000 BC as one of the many plants in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Unlike Moroccan coriander, Indian coriander has a delightful green color, unique ‘football’ shape, and a bright citrusy flavor.
In India, coriander is cultivated in particularly all the states and constitutes an important subsidiary crop in the black cotton soils of Deccan and South India (Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu) and the rich silt loam of North India. In Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, over 100000 acres are under coriander cultivation. Similarly, it is grown on a fairly large scale in Punjab and neighbouring states.
Indian raisins come in different colors and sizes. Their flavour is similar to the grapes used to produce them, only sweeter due to the drying process.
A naturally stable food, raisins resist spoilage due to their low moisture and pH levels.
India’s major grape cultivators are Maharashtra - producing 75%, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
To make 1 kilo of raisins, over 4 Kg of fresh grapes are required. These grapes are processed by sun drying and tray drying in order to produce quality raisins. The most important grapes for raisin production include Thompson Seedless, Sonakka and Rudstalk.
Native to Southeastern Europe and West Asia, fenugreek is cultivated in India, Argentina, Egypt and the Mediterranean.
Fenugreek seed is the ripe fruit of an annual herb. This robust herb has light green leaves, is 30-60 cm tall and produces slender, beaked pods, 10-15 cm long, each pod contains 10-20 small hard yellowish brown seeds, which are smooth and oblong, about 3mm long, each grooved across one corner, giving them a hooked appearance.
Able to tolerate frost and low temperatures, fenugreek is grown in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.
Major importers of Indian fenugreek are Saudi Arabia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, The United Kingdom and United States of America.
Chickpeas are highly nutritious and come in two variants: Desi and Kabuli.
Desi chickpeas are smaller than Kabuli chickpeas, are dark brown and have a thicker seed coat and are more popular in Asian countries.
Kabuli chickpeas have a whitish-cream color, a thinner seed coat and are used in soups and salads or ground for flour.
India produces 70% of the world’s chickpeas. Desi type chickpeas largely dominate the ratio of production in India.
Major importers of Indian chickpeas are Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Syria and the United States. Countries in the Asian continent are the major importer of Desi type chickpea and the remaining countries import Kabuli type chickpea.
India is the world’s largest producer of fennel seeds. Fennel seeds are known for their cool, refreshing taste. Fennel seed consumption increases during India’s summer months.
Indian fennel is also used in food, medicines, liquor, perfumery and get exported as seeds, powder and oil. . Indians have a Royal choice of having Sarbat of Fennel seeds which helps to bear the unbearable hot climate.
India’s major fennel cultivating regions are Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The largest importers of fennel seeds are Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the UAE, UK and US.
Black seed oil - the healthiest oil in the world - is made from Kalonji seeds. The scientific name of black seed (Kalonji) plant is Nigella Sativa.
Originated from Turkey and Italy, kalonji seed has been used for centuries as traditional medicine in Egypt and Indi. Kalonji seeds are triangular, black, have a pungent smell, are oil rich and is grown throughout India.
Dill is an annual herb native to the Central Asia; it is also widely grown in Europe and Northern Africa.
Dill seeds are originated in Central Asia. It is also grown in large quantity in Egypt and Mediterranean countries or Eastern Europe.
India and Pakistan are the major dill production areas, Egypt, Fiji, Mexico, Netherland, United States, England, and Hungary are other commercially productive areas, making small contributions to the world production.
India is the leading producer of dill seed and its derivatives. The exports of the essential oil and seeds have grown over the past five years. India supplies whole and powdered spice to various European countries.
Cultivation of onion started 7000 years ago. On an average, a person consumes 13.7 pounds of onion annually. Onions are very popular in Libya where each person consumes 66.8 pounds of onion per year.
India produces around 40,00,000 metric tons of onion annually and is the 2nd largest onion producer in the world, first being China.
In India onion is grown in three crop seasons, namely kharif (harvested in October-November), late kharif (January February) and rabi (April – May). Rabi season crop is the largest accounting for about 60 percent of annual production with kharif and late kharif accounting for about 20 percent each.
The export from Mumbai is largely of Nashik/Pune region onion known as pickle. Of the Southern varieties, around 50,000 mts Podisu, 5000 Mts Mutlore and Nathu, 45000 MT Bangalore Rose and around 20,000 Mt Bellary onions are exported.