Piper nigrum, aka, black pepper is the world’s most used spice. Native to Southern India, pepper was exported to other parts of the world, specifically Egypt much before the time of Ramses the Great. Today, 95% of tropical countries grow black pepper and export them to other countries.
Black pepper plants are climbers and the pepper grows on vines, in the same way that grapes grow. The black pepper powder used for cooking is actually crushed dried pepper seeds. It has a very pungent taste and smell, which goes very well with most foods. In some parts of the world, pepper powder is also added to aerated beverages and soft drinks to elevate their flavour.
Pepper is usually added as a garnish to foods. It can be sprinkled on salads & boiled eggs, it can be added to omelette mix, soups & stocks, it can be rubbed on meat before cooking, it can be used to season bread, buns & rolls, it can be used to make savoury dips & salsa and it can be used to make biscuits spicy.
Pepper is best used when coarsely ground, as finely-ground powder can irritate your throat and nose when eaten. Apart from black pepper, people also use red pepper powder which is crushed dried red chilli peppers.