[V] Vanilla beans & Pepper corns |#atozchallenge 2017|

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2010 saw us head for Coorg for a family vacation on my birthday in March. I had been living in Bangalore at that time and keen to explore the places around. I was excited to see the coffee plantations and maybe spot some Vanilla plants too as I had heard this region’s climate favoured its cultivation.

We booked into the TATA coffee plantation bungalow and landed amongst lush greenery, replete with a golf course that flourished under the canopies of scores of towering rainforest trees. Our cottage was nestled in a garden brimming with blooms of all shapes and colours where the sunbirds were playing hide and seek with gay abandon.

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Our assigned guide assured us of a fantastic time and commandeered one of the plantation jeeps to take us around and show us the various spices – from seed to plant to the final fruit. We were excited to see our common day kitchen spices growing on trees and bushes. Our guide informed us of a “mast” elephant on the prowl and we were to be careful in the bushes as it can be dangerous. Seems it’s a common thing in these parts to have a occasional rogue elephant.

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The very first thing our guide pointed out was this very pretty looking plant with unusual protrusions on the flowering stem. He kept us guessing, but we couldn’t imagine what this was. Then we smelled it – yeah we went near it and inhaled. Oh man, it was the warm enticing Vanilla fragrance which has me swooning every time I bake a cake. Of course I took some beans from the plant but these were still raw and I took them as a memento.

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Next up were some exquisite white coloured blooms on long leaved plants. The flowers resembles the chrysanthemums and were actually the coffee flowers. We could see and hear the buzz of a gazillion bees of all kinds zooming around these exotic flowers with their citrusy smell. I was amazed to note how the coffee flowers grew in a neat row on each stem.

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Further up we saw a few plants where the flowers had dried up and were now forming the coffee berries. I didn’t know the berries were red in colour. They turn dark later, assured out guide and even took us to the harvest collection points where we were able to hold a few and smell them.

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He pointed quite a few more from the sweet-smelling cinnamon to the earthy cardamom. I even saw a few that I hadn’t ever heard about like the star aniseed which is a star-shaped spice and smells like liquorice. Just then, he pointed at a few berry strings on a tree and asked us to guess.

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Stumped, we looked at him in expectation. He smiled and told us its pepper. Really!!! That looks like a fruit berry or some sort. He explained that the pepper berries are initially green, then darken to a red and finally a brown. At each stage of the berry, the pepper taste is different and they are harvested at different intervals to give us white pepper, green pepper and the much used black pepper. Whoa!! I had no clue that we get all of them from the same berry – harvested at separate intervals of its growth stages.

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Ofcourse, mom and me ended up purchasing quite a lot of spices, much to my dad and sister’s amusement. I couldn’t get over the thought of buying them up fresh, straight from the farm without any processing.

Sadly no Vanilla beans as this was not the season for its harvest yet. And no encounter with the out of control Pachyderm either.

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”

~ Margaret Lee


Have you ever been to a spice plantation? What do you think of spices?

Fact File:

  • TATA coffee plantation is situated in Coorg in Karnataka and offers stay with complimentary spice trips.
  • The soil and climate at Coorg is very favourable to spices, coffee and even tea.
  • Nearest railhead to Coorg is at Mysore – 120 km away. Nearest Airport is Bangalore.

Wait for the W – even I don’t know yet what it will be about

For the uninitiated, AtoZ challenge is a blogging challenge wherein one has to write on every alphabet from A to Z and post on all days of April, except Sundays. Usually its better to devise a theme as it makes it easy to write the posts. Plus readers have a reason to stay hooked too.

The A to Z Challenge is created by  Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out
and co-hosted by

Alex J. Cavanaugh of Alex J. Cavanaugh

Jeremy Hawkins of Hollywood Nuts

Heather M. Gardner of  The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Zalka Csenge Virág of The Multicolored Diary

John Holton of The Sound of One Hand Typing

J Lenni Dorner of  Blog of J. Lenni Dorner

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My journey so far in the #AtoZChallenge

A – April Fool

B – BodyArt

C – ChaiJai

D – Dolphins

E – Emu

F – Flower Power

G – Grapestomping

H – Halitosis High

I – Innovation

J – Japanese Kalbelia

K – Kathakali

L – Leather that weathers

M – Mother India

N – Nonchalant morning walk

O – Once upon a Time

P – Parsi Palate

Q – Quirky cafe

R – Ravanahatha

S – Summer Palace

T – Taaza Thindi

U – Unzymotic

Passionate about everything design, I am in love with photography, travel and baking. My writing journey was initiated with my letter writing hobby as a child and has metamorphosised into serious blogging. I indulge with reading fantasy fiction, day dreaming and sipping good wine.

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43 thoughts on “[V] Vanilla beans & Pepper corns |#atozchallenge 2017|

  1. What amazing flowers. I thought they were placed there till I read that they were coffee flowers. They look like gajras… Another post that makes me want to book my seat and fly out NOW

    1. I know what yuo mean Sunita- that was my reaction too. They look too symmetrical na 😉
      Thanks for the kind words – hope you fly out soonest!

  2. I am visiting the TATA Coffee plantation.This looks like my kind of holiday spot .Beautiflu pictures and loved the pepper story.Coffee flower looks so pretty

    1. Oh you must Amzeee – its just amazing out there! For a nature lover like you, this will be the perfect getaway 🙂

  3. Lovely post. I once got to experience these in a coffee plantation near chikkamagalur. It was heavenly. My bags had quite a lot of spices too when I left from there!!!
    -Prasanna from Team Mocktailmommies.

    1. Ah Chikmanglur has been on the anvil for long but never got around to it!!! Thanks for dropping by Prasanna! 🙂

  4. Such a mesmerizing place it is! Your post took me back down the memory lane. The winding roads, plantations, scenic splendour ,in the lap of nature , just so perfect!
    Btw, amazing clicks 🙂

  5. Lovely pictures & I love the smell of vanilla beans, they have to rubbed really hard for that smell though.
    My mom used to make pickles out of the fresh green peppercorn.
    I miss them already.
    A Peice Of My Life

    1. I think I had a green pepercorn achar in Benaras a whil eback and it was quite yum! Thanks for dropping in Deepa!!! 🙂

    1. OH oh I didnt like Vanilla tea either- I had gotten some from Kerala on one of my visits and bought it coz it smelled awesome. But when brewed, it wasnt upto the mark!! But yeah overall I love Vanilla!!!! And you are right about it improving everything with its warm wintery smell!!!!

  6. This is second post on Vanilla beans that I have read today. And I am going to ditch the vanilla extract and get these rich beans for my cakes soon.
    My husband once got preserved raw pepper (like the one you have clicked) and we loved it’s distinct flavour in the curries.

    1. Yeah raw vanilla is just sensational but verrrrry expensive!!! So use it sparingly if you bake a lot like me!!! 😉

  7. Ahh! I had no idea vanilla plant looks like that, or even that coffee flowers were so pretty!
    My bags would have been full of spices too, LOL! 😛
    I was kind of disappointed though that there were no pics of that ‘mast’ elephant! 😀

    Anyway, I got tied up with work yesterday, so couldn’t complete my V post. Do visit it today @ A to Z of Happiness: Values. Happy AtoZing!

    1. Ha ha – yeah the bags we fill on our vacays is not funny eh!!! I can never resist a good bargain and if its unusual stuff, all the more!!
      Thank god no mast elephant – what if he had become mast with us 😉
      I have been missing your posts Chicky – shall visit today to read them.
      Cheers

    1. Thanks Menaka – you really think they look like coffee beans? Vanilla beans a re long and green like the french beans and coffee beans are red and rotund.

    1. Oh wow I hope you get to travel there soonest. Do you really think vanilla looks like peppercorns? I dont seem to make that connection 😉

  8. I do want to visit Coorg as well. Your pictures definitely intrigue a person further. It would have been awesome had you got your hands on Vanilla beans as well 😉

    1. Thanks so much Anmol and yes I did get vanilla beans – raw ones from the tree, not dried one. IN the pic you can see the raw ones being formed on the plant!!
      Loving your fictional stories and will be visitng more of your blog to finish reading them all!
      Cheers 😉

  9. This is the first time I’m seeing the real Vanilla 😀 Nor did I know that the coffee beans were initially red in color. Pepper I have seen in plenty here. As a child, I used to pluck the green pepper and eat. My it used to be spicy. But nice kinda spicy.
    That cottage looks super cute! Do you have a post of its interiors? Seems like it would have been very cozy. 🙂

I would love to hear what you thought of this post