Nutmeg is a spice used in cuisines popularly. The biological name of nutmeg is Myristica fragrans. It is a dry round seed of the nutmeg tree in approximately having an egg-shaped structure with a fragrant odour. It is around 20 to 30 mm (0.8 to 1 in) long and 15 to 18 mm (0.6 to 0.7 in) broad and weighs between 5 and 10 grams. The nutmeg tree is tropical vegetation and is responsible for two spices of the fruit- nutmeg and mace. Mace is the dry string-like reddish skin or aril of the seed. Spicy Nutmeg Mousse, Nutmeg Jumbles, Spicy Nutmeg Chicken Drumsticks, Nutmeg Sauce and Nutmeg Brussels Sprouts are popular dishes made using nutmeg.
History of Nutmeg
Nutmeg is believed to have been found and prospered in Malacca region in Malaysia. It has been a valued and expensive spice during European medieval cuisine. Its uses included flavour, medicine and preservative agent. Ancient saint St Theodore the Studite ( ca. 758 – ca. 826) let his monks to sprinkle nutmeg on their Pease pudding when required to have it. During the Elizabethan Era, nutmeg was known to ward off the plague and hence was very popular. In the Middle Ages, nutmeg was a trade commodity dealt with by the Arabs and sold to the Venetians at very high prices. There were several conquests and wars held for the spice and countries that participated in that included-Portugal in the 16th Century, Dutch in the 17th Century and the British in the following years.
Culinary Uses of the Nutmeg
Nutmeg is mostly made use of either in ground or grated form and is finest when grated fresh. It is made use of for flavouring many recipes in many countries where it is found.
Cuisines Using Nutmeg
Penang cuisine makes use of dry and shredded nutmeg rind having sugar covering for toppings on the exquisite Penang preparation ais kacang.
In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is made use of in a lot of sweet and savoury dishes. It is called jaiphal in many parts of India, "jathikai" in tamil and as jatipatri and jathi seed in Kerala, jaaji kaaya in Telugu, 'jaayi kaayi' in Kannada and mace is called jaapathri in Telugu and Kannada. It is also incorporated in little quantities as a medicine called janma ghutti for infants. It can also be used in little amounts in garam masala.
In Middle Eastern cuisine, ground nutmeg is mostly used as a spice for savoury dishes. In Arab countries, Greece and Cyprus, nutmeg is used in cooking and savoury dishes.
In European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used specifically in potato dishes and in processed meat products.
In Dutch cuisine, nutmeg is incorporated to vegetable preparations such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and string beans.
Nutmeg is included as an ingredient to make Japanese curry powders.
In the Caribbean, nutmeg is commonly used in drinks such as the Bushwacker, Painkiller and Barbados rum punch. It is simply a sprinkle on the top of the drink.
Preferable Cooking Methods For Nutmeg
Nutmeg is mostly dried and grated for use. It is either crushed or ground into powder for use. Nutmeg can also be incorporated in spice blends. Nutmeg rind is also crushed or boiled for making iced nutmeg juice or Penang Hokkien, "lau hau peng".
Popular Nutmeg Recipes
- Spicy Nutmeg Mousse is a nutmeg recipe to make dessert along with pineapple extract, egg whites and more seasonings.
- Nutmeg Jumbles is a nutmeg recipe to make a yummy sweet that can be had as a snack. Spicy Nutmeg Chicken Drumsticks is a flavourful nutmeg recipe of luscious chicken with the flavour of nutmeg.
- Nutmeg Sauce is a simple and easy nutmeg recipe to make an appetizing and palatable sauce
- Nutmeg Brussels Sprouts is a nutritious and delicious nutmeg recipe that incorporates many vegetables.
Nutritive Value of Nutmeg
Nutmeg is an excellent source of potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. It has sound quantity of sodium and little quantities of iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Nutmeg contains sound quantities of Vitamin A, C and choline. It also contains little amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and folate. Nutmeg allays stomach pain, diarrhoea and aids in detoxifying the body, brings down blood pressure and augments blood circulation. It is also useful for digestion, bringing down acidity, alleviating vomiting, gas and is used as a remedy for respiratory complaints.
Non- Food Uses of Nutmeg
The essential oil derived through steam distillation of ground nutmeg is used extensively in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. The essential oil is also incorporated in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, for example, in toothpaste and as a chief ingredient in certain cough syrups. In conventional medicine, nutmeg and nutmeg oil were made use of for disorders related to the nervous and digestive systems. It has been known to intoxicate some small animals for over consumption.