Nutmeg finds its use in many culinary delights but what I would like to share with you in this wonderful event Think spice ,Think nutmeg is not exactly a recipe but something like ‘Grandma’s Remedy’.
I was particularly tempted to share this with you when I read Sunita’s Announcement where she asks “Apart from cooking, does a particular spice have other uses in your household…?”
This is my answer to her question….
Nutmeg can be given to infants!!! Confused ,huh??
We know that Nutmeg is sometimes used as a recreational drug and has risks and toxicity.
I can hear you wondering – “Then how can this be given,that too, to infants?? ”
Let me explain….
Giving nutmeg to infants has been practised for a very long time.It cannot be given whole [Obviously!] or powdered.First ,nutmeg has to be processed.
A single nutmeg is taken and boiled in 1 1/2 cup of milk for 45 minutes,simmering all the while.If the milk reduces in quantity,more milk is added.After 45 minutes,it is removed from the milk[which will look gooey by now] and dried in shade.Care should be taken that it does not attract dust/insects.It can be kept under a gauze cloth.When it is completely dry ,it is stored in an airtight container.
Ok,now coming to the part of giving it to the infants.
Express a little breast-milk,around 5ml and put it a few drops of it on small stone[a seperate stone,like the one shown in the photograph, is kept for this purpose which is cleaned before every usage] and rub the processed nutmeg on it.Just a couple of strokes not more.
Carefully take it off the stone and mix it with the remaining breast-milk and feed it to the infant.This photograph shows the utensil used to feed the concoction.
When should this be given,you may ask.It is given on the days right after the little ones are given an oil bath[i.e they are massaged with oil from head to toe and then given a bath,including hair wash],which is usually twice a week.
Usually nutmeg is not given alone.Another two herbs – Maachi kaai[Sorry,I don’t know the English name.It looks like nutmeg but almost black in color] and a piece of vasambu [Acorus Calamus/Sweet flag] are also processed along with nutmeg and rubbed with a little breastmilk along with nutmeg.
The resulting milk, after rubbing in the 3 herbs ,which is fed to the infant ,will be brown in color.
This herbal concoction is called ‘ora marundhu’ in Tamil and ‘ Suthu kaara’ in Kannada.It is given upto 6 months of age.
Why should this be given to infants? The three herbs when mixed with breastmilk and given, increases the appetite,reduces colic/regurgitation and aids in digestion. It also helps the infant to sleep a little longer ,which is a blessing for the mom as she too can catch-up with her forty winks 🙂
After this procedure,the herbs are dried in shade[covered] and stored in an airtight container until next use.Even if a little bit of dampness is present,the herbs turn moldy.Hence care should be taken during preparation and storage.
The authenticity of the practise of giving nutmeg and other herbs lies in the fact that it has been given to little ones for a very very long time. If you are from India ,espcially from the South ,ask your mom/grandmom and they will surely nod with approval.
In those days,people depended more on herbs for all remedies and had a few of them handy at all times.Moreover,the use of allopathy medicine was uncommon.
I have been given this to my lil angel from day 11 till date.
NOTE:Please do not use this as a medical advice.Seek the advice of your medical practisioner / elders before giving this to your infant.