Spices are an inseparable part of our lives. From early times, spices have been used to enhancing the flavour of food and preserving it. Spices are also used for their medicinal properties. Their antimicrobial properties help reduce the spread of infections and ward off certain diseases. The expression ‘Spice of Life’ covers the entire spectrum of spices and their popularity, from tickling our taste buds to preserving our health.
I have picked from the richness and depth of Indian spices some which are exotic and not commonly used in day to day cooking. For each spice, a recipe using the spice is given.
- MACE :
Botanical Name :Myristica fragransHoutt : Hindi Name : JAVITRI
Mace and Nutmeg are two distinctly different spices from a single fruit of an evergreen, aromatic, nutmeg tree, about 9-12 meters high. Nutmeg is a hard, black, shiny seed enveloped in a thin and shining casing, scarlet in colour, which is the mace. The casing is dexterously removed, gently flattened and when dried is called the mace. When dry, mace becomes brittle and turns yellowish or reddish brown.
The flavour of mace is similar to nutmeg. Both are used as flavour enhancers and also have medicinal properties.
Mace is commonly used in drugs because of its astringent, stimulant and aphrodisiac characteristics and particularly useful for dysentery and related stomach problems.
Its use in the kitchen is generally limited to sweets and savouries but its delicate, subtle and distinctive flavour has not been fully exploited. Here is a recipe you can try:
RECIPE: JIMIKAND SHAHI
Jimikand ( Yam) 1 kg cut into 2” pieces and deep fried
Ginger paste 1 tsp
Garlic paste 2 tsp
Green chillies 2-3; grind to make fine paste
Onions 2 sliced, browned in oil
Yogurt 1 ½ cup
Salt to taste
Almonds 15-20 ground to fine paste
Bay leaves 2
Coriander powder 1 tbsp
Cumin powder 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder ¼ tsp
Mace powder ¼ tsp
Green cardamom powder.. ¼ tsp
Fresh Cream ½ cup
Oil 4 tbsp
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Fry onion, garlic and chilli paste. Add bay leaf. Fry till brown. Add yam and yogurt .Cook till it is tender,
Add coriander, cumin powder, browned onion and almond paste. Stir and cover with a tight lid. Cook on slow fire till it is tender, Sprinkle mace, cinnamon and cardamom powder. Stir in fresh cream and serve with chapatti or naan.
Botanical Name :Myristica fragransHoutt : Hindi Name : JAIPHAL
Nutmeg is the dried seed and peach like ripe fruit – round and brown – of the same tree on which mace grows. Its flavour is stronger than that of mace. It is used in pharmaceutical formulations and its oil is used in perfumes and hair lotions. The powder of nutmeg is used for curing ailments of the alimentary canal. 1 tbsp of nutmeg powder mixed with 1 tbsp of amla can be of help in depression and insomnia. If mixed in hot milk and taken at bedtime, it induces sleep. The paste of nutmeg is useful for skin problems like eczema and pimples.Its culinary use is as a great flavouring agent.
RECIPE : JACKFRUIT EXOTICA
Jackfruit . . 1 kg cut in big pieces. Boil and fry.
1 tbsp dhania seeds
1 tbsp jeera seeds
7-8 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp red colouredchilli powder
1 tsp haldi powder
half seed of nutmeg, roasted dry and powdered
4-5 tbsp oil
Grind dhania, jeera and garlic to fine paste. Now add whipped dahi and fry again until oil floats on top. Add jackfruit pieces, mix properly and put on low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add roasted powder.
Decorate with fried onion slices.