Spices have been used in Ethiopia for flavoring foods and for their medicinal powers from the earliest time to the present day. Realizing the importance of spices in various aspects, the Ethiopian postal Service issues four sets of stamps featuring spicy herbs cultivated in various parts of the country.
1.Zingeber officinale Rose
The spice was well known in England before the Norman Conquest. It is referred to in 11th. century Anglo- Saxon books. In 16th century England ginger was noted for its medicinal powers and was recommended by Henry VIII as remedy against the plague.
During the Middle Ages ginger was usually delivered to Europe from the Fax East in the form of living rhizomes, so it is logical that ginger was the 1st. Oriental spice to be introduced from the East Indies to the New World. It was successfully transplanted to the West Indies early in the 16th century.
The ginger plant requires a consistently warm and moist climate, brilliant sunshine and heavy rain fall. It thrives at lower elevations up to about 2,500ft. in rich well-tilled sandy loam. Ginger is used for food flavoring & perfumery, in men’s toilet lotions to Flavor soft drinks. Ground ginger is used in ginger bread, pies, pickles, puddings and oriental meat dishes.
Basil, Ocimum basilicum, known also as sweet basil, is an annual spicy herb of the mint family said to be native to India, Africa and Asia.
It is a small bushy plant, profusely branched, which grows to a height of about 2 feet. The glossy leaves are grayish-green beneath up to 2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. The flowers are small, greenish or purplish white in color. Well-drained soil is recommended, and if possible sunny, wind sheltered spots should be selected.
Basil is used for flavoring foods. An essential oil of basil, golden in color, is produced through steam distillation of the fresh herb. This essential oil is used in many perfumes. In more recent times basil has been used in the Far East as a cough medicine, for kidney trouble, and for diarrhea.
3. Mustard Seed
Of the many varieties of mustard, the most prominent are herbaceous annuals, Snapis alba and Brassica hirta Moench, both known as white or yellow mustard, & Brassica nigra(I) Koch, black or brown mustard. All three member of the mustard family and are probably indigenous to southern Europe and Mediterranean region.
Mustard seed can be grown in most temperate climates. The seeds of white and black mustard yield about 25 to 35 percent of fixed-oils, obtained by expresson in an oil press. These fixed oils, by-products of the condiment industry in many countries, may be used in soap making, for burning in lamps and as lubricants.
4. Cumin Seed
Cumin, Cuminum Cyminum, is a small annual herb of the parsley family, believed to be a native of Upper Egypt, Turkistan, and the Eastern Mediterranean region. It grows from 1 to 2 feet tall and produces a skin with many branches bearing long, finely divided, deep green leaves and small flowers that are white or rose-colored. Cumin was well known to ancient civilizations, for it has been cultivated since earliest times. It was included in the list of medicinal plants used in Egypt and recorded in the Ebers papyrus (1550 B.C.)
The plants require a mild, equable climate and a fairly long growing season of three or four months. A rich, well- drained sandy loam soil and sunny location are recommended. Cumin seed, with its strongly aromatic, hot and bitter taste, is an essential ingredient of curry powder and chili powder, it is also used commercially in the preparation of meats, pickles, cheese, sausages. and chutney.