Nutmeg is an apricot-like fruit of a local tree of Banda Islands in Indonesia also known as Spice Islands. This exotic spice reached Alexandria in the 6th century, and Europe from there. At first, it was used for medical purposes in China, Arabia, India and Europe. When the Portuguese started trading it from the islands it was cultivated, it drew attention gastronomically too. Especially after the 17th century, it became a very popular and expensive spice in Europe.
Obtaining nutmegs has a few steps. First the ripe fruits are picked from the trees. Their outer skin with white wall is peeled. There is a rough, brown-black peel that covers the outer part of nutmeg, which is the stone of the fruit. After 6 or 8-week of drying, this peel cracks. Only nutmeg remains after cracked peel is removed completely. Ready to be consumed, nutmegs are grouped according to their size.
Nutmeg has a rich, fresh and warm aroma. It has a sweetish smell and its taste includes pine and camphor aromas. In the background, it leaves a woody taste that reminds clove.
It can be used in both salty and sweet dishes. It works well with especially lamb and mutton. It blends with meat dishes cooked in stews and pots. It works well with cabbage dishes, vegetables such as cauliflower au gratin, potato, spinach and cauliflower mash, and soups. It gives a great aroma to béchamel sauce and begendi (eggplant puree with milk and browned flour). It adds a rich aroma to fruitcakes, fruit desserts and cookies.
Nutmeg is quite a rough spice by nature. When you buy it as a whole, you can only use it by grating with a fine-toothed grate. It has a strong aroma. Sprinkling a pinch of nutmeg into your meal would be enough to add aroma. If you buy ground nutmeg, keep it in airtight glass jar to minimize the loss of aroma.
One of the secrets of begendi, which you eat at restaurants and like a lot, is a pinch of nutmeg in it. You can also make delicious begendi with nutmeg at home. Just add a pinch of nutmeg in your béchamel sauce before adding roasted eggplant in the pot.
You can also make delicious vegetable puree to serve with meat by combining béchamel sauce, to which you add nutmeg, and boiled vegetables such as cauliflower, spinach and celery. You can obtain a special taste if you add some butter, milk and a pinch of nutmeg to your mashed potatoes as well.
A nutmeg-flavored healthy, delicious and refreshing beverage will save you during hot summer months. Process 250 gr yoghurt, 1 sliced peach, 1 dessertspoon honey, a few ice cubes and a pinch of ground nutmeg through a blender. Put it in a glass, sprinkle one more pinch of nutmeg and serve. You will obtain a delicious beverage for both yourself and your guests during hot summer days.