History reveals the use of nutmeg in the first century AD. Nutmeg is the hard kernel of the seed of an evergreen tree, native to Moluccas. Mace is the lacy growth known as the aril, surrounds the seed. Nutmeg had long been used in India, unknown to ancient civilization of the west.
The spice became popular in the kitchen when the Portuguese developed trade in Spice Island, in 16th century. Nutmeg became important as medicine and spice and by the 18th century, people carried nutmeg as a personal belonging.
Cultivation of this species is only possible in warm humid climates with temperatures not less than 55oF. Today this spice is cultivated in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, West Indies and Brazil. These spices are similar in aroma and taste, but mace is more refined. These are used in both savory and sweet dishes. Nutmeg has a warm flavor and affinity for rich foods. In Italy, it is used for filling pastas. In India these are used mainly in Moghul dishes. Arabs add it to Mutton and Lamb. Europeans use it extensively in sweet and savory dishes. Dutch recipes include nutmeg as a seasoning agent. In Indonesia, flesh of the fruit is used to make sweet meat.
It is used to relieve bronchial disorders, rheumatism and flatulence as treatment for digestive, liver and skin complaints. It is also used in perfumery, soaps and shampoos.