A lesser known spice, cooking with mace is centuries old due to its aromatic, floral flavour. Read the post for ideas on how to add mace in different ways to dishes.
This intriguing aromatic spice has nothing to do with the weapon or mace spray. We are talking about the spice Mace! Mace is a cooking spice used as a sweet, aromatic seasoning to add flavour and make delicious dishes.
Not considered to be a popular spice but the use of mace for cooking goes back centuries starting as one of the key spices to be traded into Europe.
Mace is the cousin of Nutmeg as they come from the same plant source native to the Indonesian island of Moluccas. It is now grown in tropical countries such as Sri Lanka, South American countries, and some areas of the Caribbean , specially Grenada where Nutmeg tree is their national symbol.
In this post we will discuss what is mace in cooking terms, mace spice uses, benefits and substitute.
What Is Mace Spice?
Most people are familiar with nutmeg as a spice. While nutmeg is the seed, mace is the red, lace-like membrane also known as aril covering the nutmeg seed.
Once the seed becomes ripe the delicate membrane surrounding the seed is carefully removed and dried.
The bright red covering changes into a rusty orange colour once dried and it is this dried mace flower which is used for cooking purposes as a spice.
You can get the spice mace in two forms:
- Mace blade also known as mace flower which is the whole form
- Mace powder – then the dried flower is ground into powder
The powder is the most popular of the two used for cooking purposes.
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Other Names Of Mace
Below are few names of mace called in other languages:
Mace powder in Hindi – Javitri
Mace powder in German – Muskatblütenpulver
Mace powder in French – Macis en poudre
Mace powder in Spanish – Polvo de Mace
What Does Mace Taste Like and Is It Different to Nutmeg
It is an aromatic spice. Being the outer covering, it carries some of the flavour profile similar to nutmeg although they are two different spices.
Mace spice taste is sweet, peppery with the spiciness similar to cinnamon or star anise with subtle citrusy notes.
When is comes to flavour, mace blade seems to be stronger than nutmeg, when used in whole form.
It is earthy with floral like fragrance.
The game changes when the flower is grounded into powder. This is when mace tastes milder to nutmeg.
It is warm and intense with a sweet-coriander like flavour.
Cooking With Mace
Mace has a complex flavour but surprisingly pretty versatile in use. The mace spice uses in cooking is to make both savoury and sweet dishes.
It can be used both in ground and whole form to add flavour, aroma and taste to many dishes.
Being a lesser known spice, using mace in cooking is not very popular and new cooks may struggle with ideas on how to use mace in dishes. But this is a spice that never fails to impress when it comes to uplifting flavours and is not limited to cooking Indian food.
The easier type used for cooking purpose is ground mace. Whole mace flower can also be grounded into powder using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Here are few ideas on cooking with mace :
COOKING WITH WHOLE MACE
- Add whole mace blade in warm oil along with other whole spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamom to flavour and temper the oil.
- Add mace flower in rice dishes, pulses, legumes for added aroma.
- Add mace flower in broths and soups. Remove the flower before serving.
COOKING WITH MACE POWDER
- Sprinkle ground mace on fruits such as peach, apple, melons, pineapple,nectarine.
- Add mace powder to bakes such as pastry dough, cookies, biscuits,cakes.
- Add to both savoury and sweet pies like apple pie, pumpkin pie, cottage pie.
- Add to smoothies, cocktails and drinks like tea, coffee, hot chocolate.
- Sprinkle a bit on top of porridge, granola or cereal.
- Use it to flavour spice rubs, marinades, roasts.
- Powdered mace is used as one of the ingredients to make Garam masala powder.
Benefits Of Mace
Not only is mace great for adding flavour but it also has few health benefits:
Maintains healthy digestive system
It is believed that mace may provide relief to people suffering from bloating and gas related problems. It may also help to regulate bowel movement and constipation.
Can help boost appetite
Mace is known to increase appetite for those who have eating disorders.
Acts as a mood enhancer
The chemical compounds in mace that render the aroma also helps to improve the function of nerves and act as an anti-depressant and enhances mood.
May improve blood circulation
Mace have manganese and iron which is useful for the removal of toxins from the body, enable the smooth flow of blood, regulate blood pressure and prevent iron deficiency.
Substitute For Mace And Food Pairings
The flavour of mace resembles other aromatic spices, making it an easy spice to replace in dishes.
Here are some of the best alternative to mace spice:
Option 1 – Nutmeg
Option 2 – Use Cinnamon and allspice together or any one.
Option 3 – Pumpkin spice
Foods that combine best with mace are:
Best food pairing: pumpkin, root vegetables, orange and red vegetables, peach, banana, apple, melons, milk products, chicken, lamb, meat, seafood, rice, curries
Best spice pairing: cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, asafoetida, cardamom, ground ginger, cloves, cumin seeds, dry chilies, coriander seeds
Where To Buy Mace Spice
If you are buying whole mace blade/flower do ensure that it has a bright red colour as opposed to dull pink and should be crispy.
Powdered mace should have a vibrant maroon colour and not have any lumps.
You can buy both types of mace from your local Indian store or online from the recommended online store below:
How To Store
It is best to store mace in an airtight container away from direct sunlight and humidity.
Well stored mace will keep its character and flavour for a least 12 months.
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