Balanoor Estate Peppercorns
India. In the Chikmagalur region where tiger and leopard and Asian elephant still roam quietly through forest and farm. The English history here is evident in language and dress of the farm workers. Dirt roads are flanked with gangly coffee trees and neatly picked tea bushes, interspersed with palms and tall, straight silver oak trees. And up these climb the vines which yield our black peppercorns. I ran these roads and tasted the red and green pepper fruits - a delightful fruity, herbal, but distinctly peppery taste which lingered on my palate. These pepper fruits, dangling like tiny clusters of grapes, are picked by brave men on primitive ladders. They are covered in a pile for two days in order to build up heat, and then spread on the drying patio to dry in the sun for three or four days, like a natural coffee. I imported this excellent pepper from my friends Ashok and Rohan Kuriyan, who kindly let me stay in their Balanoor farmhouse for a couple days in January. Perhaps touched by the tiger, you'll taste the this spice in layers of aromatic pine nut and crabapple.