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Spice Up Your Health: Part 3 - Mace

Posted by SpiceNirvana 12/10/2017 0 Comment(s) Healthy Eating,

 

A journey through the pantry of Indian culinary experts, one spice at a time...

 

Welcome to another Nirvana Blog.

 

Now that we have already discussed about a few generic spices, we think it's time for us to take it up a notch. For this article we picked a spice, though not very incommon, that still is a bit of a mystery for many who have come across it. If you have already guessed it by looking at the below image, you may very well be a spice aficionado!

 

Commonly known as Mace and called 'Javetri' in India, this is one of those exotic spices that most people think is a dried flower. Hearing the word ‘mace’, many people are likely to conjure up an image of the liquid used in self-defence. However, mace is also an expensive spice and not a man-made chemical product but a plant native to Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri-Lanka and the West Indian islands. The seed in the picture is something that is much more commonly used and much better known - Nutmeg or 'Jaiphal'. Mace is derived from the lacy, red outer coating that covers the shell around the nutmeg kernel. The fruits of the nutmeg tree enclose the richly flavoured nutmeg seeds, and mace can be found between the external fruit and the internal seed. Once this coating is removed, it's dried, and can be found and purchased as whole, golden-orange "blades", though it's mostly commonly sold ground.

 

Cooking With Mace

 

In flavour, mace is very similar to nutmeg, though more subtle and delicate, along with a hint of pepper. If you find nutmeg too potent or astringent, try using mace instead for a gentler flavour. While mace can be used in sweet dishes similar to nutmeg, this spice really shines in savoury dishes. The highly aromatic spice is often used in spice blends for flavouring meat dishes, stews, curries, savoury sauces, homemade pickles, and is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine. Whole mace blades are generally used in Indian cookery as a part of 'Khada Garam Masala' (where Garam Masala spices are lightly toasted to release their essential oils and used whole instead of in powdered form) which imparts a more subtle but complex aroma to a dish. It also reduces the chances of the dish getting bitter with  Whole mace blades should also be removed before serving.

 

Though a nominal amount of mace is quite common in a good quality 'Garam Masala', it isn't something you would find in generic spice mixes because of it cost. It was used extensively by the rich Mughal emperors, and is still most common in Mughlai Indian cuisine. Mace is an integral part of any good Biryani or Kebab spice mix, and most other rich Mughlai dishes. If you want to really know the aroma and taste of mace, a simple sprinkle of powdered mace in a sweet or savoury dish will be enough. Although, the amazing thing about Indian cuisine is the complex alchemy of spices. An quality Indian/Mughlai spice mix can contain dozens of spices, blended together in perfect proportions, and the final taste and aroma of these combinations truly speak volumes about the great culinary heritage of India.

 

Health Benefits

 

Mace contains many health benefiting antioxidant compounds, essential oils, minerals, and vitamins. Mace features quite a different nutritional profile than nutmeg. It has more concentrations of essential oils, vitamin-A, vitamin-C, carotenes, iron, and calcium. The active principles in mace have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive, and carminative functions.

 

Safety

 

Since mace has very high concentrations of active elements, it needs to be used in moderation. A very high dose of it (not that once can ingest that high amounts of such intense flavour) is unsafe for human consumption.

 

See you again next time with another wonder spice and more.

 

Spice Nirvana

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