Nutmeg a delicately flavoured spice locally known as jaiphal. It is the dried ripe seed of Myristica fragrans (family Myristicaceae). The nutmeg plant is an evergreen tree, about 10 to 20 m in height, indigenous to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia and is cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Its gloden-yellow mature fruits resemble apricots. When fully ripe, the pericarp splits open exposing the shiny brown seed, which is the nutmeg of commerce.
Nutmegs are ovoid, about 20 to 35 mm long and 15 to 25 mm wide. The kernel is yellowish-brown and the endosperm, which forms the bulk of the nutmeg, is greyish-brown in colour. Nutmeg and its oils are largely used as flavours and as carminatives. It is highly prized as a flavouring spice in the preparation of special food such as polao, biriyani and thehari in Bangladesh. [Abdul Ghani]