Imagine a situation, you are all set to host an elaborate dinner for your family and friends. You are all set to cook up a storm in your kitchen but the moment you start to arrange all the needed ingredients, you notice that your star component, nutmeg is finished and there is no way you can go out and buy some or order in. Or imagine another situation where you just got to know that one of your guests has a nutmeg allergy.
Quite terrifying news at the last moment right? Well do not worry more we have got you covered. Whatever your reason be, through this article we will be telling you some of the best substitutes for nutmeg that will help you to cover the absence of nutmeg in the dish and will also help you to incorporate additional rich flavours into your food.
What is nutmeg?
Before talking about the nutmeg substitutes, we should first know about nutmeg. Nutmeg is a spice that is made from the seeds of the evergreen nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans. It is native to several Indonesian Islands. It is generally found in whole and powder form where the whole seed lasts longer and on the other hand the powdered form can be extensively used in cooking dishes.
Nutmeg is a popular common cooking spice used worldwide and it provides a warm, nutty and sweet flavour to both savoury and sweet dishes.
The most popular culinary uses of nutmeg include:
- Baked goods such as pudding and pies
- Savoury dishes and sauces
- Classic drinks like eggnog
Why do we need substitutes for nutmeg?
Nutmeg is abundant in vitamins, minerals and organic components like dietary fibre, magnesium, thiamin and other protein compounds which provide ample health benefits for the body. However, that being said, there is also a high demand for nutmeg replacements for the following reasons:
- High consumption of nutmeg leads to severe gastrointestinal reactions
- People can severe allergic reactions to the consumption of nutmeg
- Can cause hallucinations and other mental disorders
Best nutmeg substitutes
The substitutes that can be used in your dishes in the absence of nutmeg are:
One of the best substitutes to be used for nutmeg is Mace. Did you know both of them come from the same tree Myristica fragrans? Nutmeg originates from the seeds whereas, on the other hand, mace comes from the outer covering of the seed, therefore it can provide the taste and flavours closest to that of nutmeg.
Mace has the same sweet, warm flavour like nutmeg and you can easily replace mace with nutmeg in equal proportions. Although similar, mace is not a popular spice as compared to nutmeg.
One of the most flavourful concoctions of spices to be used in South Asian cuisine especially in India is garam masala. This mixture contains a beautiful blend of equal amounts of nutmeg, mace, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper. It also has cumin, turmeric and other spices in it. The spices used in this concoction are very similar in taste to nutmeg alone and therefore can effectively be used in your dishes.
Garam masala adds a touch of warmth and heat to the dishes. Garam masala is packed with flavours, therefore, use it carefully. Add a little amount into your dishes when using it solely for nutmeg replacement. However, keep in mind that this substitute works best for savoury dishes and should not be used in the sweet ones.
Allspice is the spice that comes from the berries of the Pimenta dioica tree and popularly known as the pimento or the Jamaican pepper. The authentic allspice powder is made solely from the berries however the powder sold in the market contains a combination of nutmeg, pepper, juniper berries and cinnamon. You can use equal amounts of allspice in place of nutmeg in your recipes.
Cinnamon is one of the most popular and affordable spices that you will find in your kitchen cabinet and luckily enough it is also considered as a great substitute for nutmeg. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of trees belonging to the Cinnamomum genus.
Cinnamon has a strong pungency and is very rich in flavours. When using as a replacement for nutmeg, use half the amount of your required nutmeg ratio for your recipes. It can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
5.Pumpkin pie spice
Wondering that this substitute will taste like a pumpkin when used in recipes for replacement of nutmeg? Well actually no and it is also not reserved only for sweet dishes. Pumpkin pie spice is a beautiful blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and a hint of cloves. Pumpkin pie spice can replace nutmeg in any recipes in equal propositions.
6.Apple pie spice
Very similar to pumpkin pie spice and garam masala, Apple pie spice is also a beautiful amalgamation of different spices. It contains mostly cinnamon and has nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and ginger present in small quantities. Apple piece spice is mostly used in apple-based desserts and since it has a strong flavour of cinnamon, use it in moderation in your recipes.
Belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, ginger can be extensively used in different savoury dishes as the substitute for nutmeg. It has a spicier and less sweet flavour as compared to nutmeg and therefore it is not used for sweet dishes.
Try using ground or dry ginger in your recipes instead of a fresh and whole one. You can use equal amounts of ginger in place of nutmeg in your recipes. Ginger goes very well in meat and vegetarian dishes.
And last but not the least, the ingredient that can be effectively used for nutmeg substitute is cloves. Cloves are a popular spice abundantly used in different recipes and also provides abundant health benefits to its consumers. Cloves have a similar flavour and the same sweet yet spicy taste like nutmeg and therefore is an excellent choice for a replacement of nutmeg. Use ground cloves as it will provide more flavour and richness.
However, always remember that a little can go for a long way in case of clove powder. Make sure to add only half the quantity of clove powder as required for nutmeg in recipes as it can easily overpower the taste of the entire dish.
Now there you go, armed with the information about the best substitute of nutmeg to be used in your dishes. Next time, when you are facing the problem of the absence of nutmeg, you now know what to use in your dishes. Go on, include them and see the magic that they create.