Spices: Nutmeg and Mace

Nutmeg and Mace

The round, pear-like fruit of an equatorial tree that provides us with two spices – mace and nutmeg.

Nutmegs are the oval, brown kernel of the dried seeds of the fruit. Both nutmeg and mace have similar warm, sweetish and slightly camphorous flavours, though mace has a slightly bitter edge. This makes nutmeg sweeter, and it is more aromatic than mace. Purchase them whole and grate as needed.

Nutmeg is a calming and aromatic spice. It is often taken with milk and cardamom to induce natural sleep. It grates really easily. Always grate whole nutmeg just before using, as the powdered form quickly loses its fragrance. To break a nutmeg for grinding with other spices, hit it lightly with a hammer.

Nutmeg is pungent in taste and it is said that it calms the vata dosha, soothes the nervous system and clears the mind. It acts as a rejuvenator and helps with the absorption of digested food.

Nutmeg works well with pumpkin, pumpkin soup and rice puddings. Nutmeg is always used in very small amounts, a pinch at a time, since it can be dulling when used in excess.

Mace is the red, lacy covering around the seeds of the nutmeg, which turn yellowish when dried. It looks like a red lacy doily before it fades.

Both nutmeg and mace are often used in making Garam Masala. In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is almost never used for desserts and drinks, unlike in the Western world.

Nutmeg and Mace
Nutmeg fruit, seed and aril (mace). Photo: slashme under wiki commons license

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An excellent article on Nutmeg and Mace is here.

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