Guest Author: George M. George
Most people talk about the Periyar Tiger Reserve as a vestibule of abundant wildlife—one of the last that still retains its serenity and pristine ambiance. A trip to the sanctuary while visiting Kerala is a must-do, even if it means praying on bent knees to the powers that may be, hoping to catch a glimpse of the true king of the rainforest, in addition to the other creatures of the wild.
My fascination with wildlife and the enthusiasm that preludes every visit to Periyar is without boundaries. Yet prior to every visit within the sanctuary, I feast my eyes on the tracts of spice plantations that border the protected wilderness areas of the Western Ghats: cardamom, pepper, star anise, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves (just to name a few). Coating the landscape on the outskirts of the forest, they make me wonder if we have forgotten a bit of the past that is relevant even today. A fascination with spices is not something new for the people of Kerala; they have been cultivating and cooking with them for centuries: the delicate preparation of their mouth-watering dishes, soaked in the quintessential (and compulsory) coconut milk and/or oil inspires this post.