Nutmeg is an evergreen tree. The nutmeg tree is important for two spices derived from the fruit, Nutmeg and Mace. The Nutmeg is available from the fruit of the Nutmeg tree. The fruit is generally small almost the size of an egg. It has a yellow fruit inside and when it is cut in half there is a red covering inside which is known as Mace, when it is dried. Below that is a Nut, which is the actual Nutmeg.
Etymology of Nutmeg
It is produced from the ‘Myristica Fragrans’, a member of the ‘Mayriticaceae’ family. The plant is native to Moluccas Islands in an area of Indonesia also known as Spice Islands. It is known as ‘Jaiphal’ in most parts of India and as ‘Jatipatri’ and ‘Jathi’ in Kerala, ‘Jajikayi’ in Telugu, ‘Jaadhikai’ in Tamil and ‘Jeerake’ in Kannada.
There are a number of species of nutmeg that are available. Amongst these, the common or fragrant Nutmeg, Myristica Fragrans, is grown in Kerala. Another species of nutmeg found in India is the Bombay Nutmeg, known as ‘Jaiphal’ in Hindi.
Properties of Nutmeg
Nutmeg is only a spice that is used sparingly in dishes; it can still impact health in a variety of ways, mainly due to its nutritive content of vitamins, minerals and organic compounds related to the essential oils. These beneficial components include dietary fibre, manganese, thiamine, vitamin B6, foliate, magnesium, copper and macelignan.
Use of Nutmeg in Cuisines
Nutmeg is best used as an addition to sweet recipes like Puddings and Pies. It can also be used in small quantities in Garam Masala. It can also be used on non-vegetarian dishes for an extra added flavour. Nutmeg can be used in preparation of vegetables also. It works especially well with Cheese dishes and is often a part of a soufflés recipe.
Use of Nutmeg in Medicine
Besides the culinary uses, nutmeg has health benefits as well. Nutmeg is used for diarrhoea, nausea, stomach spasms and pain, and intestinal gas. They are also used for treating cancer, kidney disease, and insomnia; increasing menstrual flow and as a general tonic.