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When a recipe calls for a blade of mace, what is the expected quantity? The pieces of mace in the bag I have literally come in every size, from the entire husk, down to tiny fragments. The thickness is pretty uniform, so two-dimensions would be enough to define it. Alternatively, I could conceptualize volume-if-ground as well; although it needs to actually be kept whole.

In case the context matters, I'm cooking from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer.

Thanks!

  • I hope the recipe calls for the entire dried mace completely. Generally blade of mace refers to that. But mace is a very strong spice and I would positively advise you to use it in minimum quantity. To start with use a strand or two. I am pretty sure it will be sufficient. Rather than confusing yourself what a blade means , go by instant with these kind of spices. No harm. Adding less is fine, but if you add more and if the flavor is rather overpowering you cannot revert back. Good luck with the curry. Hope it turns out good. – Vanpram P Oct 2 '16 at 6:19
  • Yeah, I'm pretty sure he means a small fragment - the recipe calls for 3 blades. I took a guess - at something like 1/2" x 1". It seemed alright? It wasn't way out of balance, at least. – Scott A Miller Oct 2 '16 at 18:31
  • @ScottAMiller: Going by visual memory, I'd say that 1/2" x 1" (1.2 x 2.5cm) is pretty much in the ballpark, I'll update my answer later. – Willem van Rumpt Oct 3 '16 at 5:52
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The whole mace avril is "roughly broken" into pieces called blades. One blade of mace is supposed to be enough to flavor a meal of four to six portions. One teaspoon ground mace should equal one tablespoon mace blades. A blade of mace is roughly equivalent to a half a teaspoon of ground mace when substituting in recipes.

So, a blade of mace is a "roughly broken" piece of the whole mace. It is likely a significant portion, not a tiny piece, if one blade is supposed to flavor a whole dish? It is also likely to be less than a tablespoon (as one tbs is mentioned in plural), can be roughly equivalent to a half a teaspoon of mace - at a tsp per tbs conversion, perhaps a teaspoon and a half of cracked mace pieces, if they're on the larger side, of course - and less, a teaspoon or maybe under three-quarters of a teaspoon, for tiny cracked pieces since they'll pack down much tighter than larger loose curls.

The first picture below is supposed to be of very good quality mace blades, very photogenic, so likely to be of a good, standard, size. This can be compared to the second photo, of a whole mace husk. And taking into account that a recipe might use one blade for a whole dish as mentioned earlier, or might call for three blades as the OP mentioned (the difference between the amount of spice for a background vs primary flavor, perhaps), I'm thinking a blade is a significant chunk of the mace husk, but not the whole thing.

At a rough guess, maybe a blade is supposed to be a third to a fifth of a whole mace.

This is kinda a big difference, but that might play out in recipes which mention something like one large or two small blades. Of course, one can always season to taste, and add more or less as the dish requires - but I think grabbing a third to a fifth of a whole mace husk, or about a teaspoon of smaller mace pieces per blade, and adjusting from there might be a reasonable starting point.

blades of mace versus Whole mace

  • Thanks for the references - I wish we could find some more. Thinking back, the 3 mace blades were for the garam masala, of which only a teaspoon was used in the final dish. While the flavors were good, additional mace wouldn't have been necessarily unwelcome. I'm thinking this is closer to what Iyer intended. – Scott A Miller Oct 4 '16 at 23:25
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Personally, I conceptualize an average blade-of-mace size, and use that to determine if I should tear a bit of or not. The outcome will sometimes be a bit more macey, sometimes a bit less macey. For me, it's part of the charm of a curry, and also helps finding out personal preference of dosage for mace.

The same problem exists with "an inch of ginger", "a 2 inch piece of dalchini": There's thick and thin parts of ginger, smaller or wider parts of dalchini. I do the same there: Consider what the average part looks like (i.e. for ginger, the more bulbous part seems to be main part, with smaller knobs on the outside), and use that to take your measure.

Ideally they would specify everything in tea- or tablespoons, which would at least help for grindable spices, but in my experience, most indian recipes don't when it comes to mace, ginger and dalchini (and of course garlic: Big cloves, small cloves?). (Although for ginger, they sometimes specify "a thumb sized piece of ginger", which is quite workable).

I just accept that sometimes it will be a bit more gingery/macey/cinnamony, sometimes less. I have never had a failed curry because of it, it's just that the taste will float within a certain (acceptable) range of flavors.

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    I hear you about the ginger. That's one of the reasons I like Iyer, he specifies ginger piece sizes in all three dimensions. Garlic cloves, I have enough experience to guess about average size. Mace, I'm at a complete loss as to what an average piece would be; the bag literally has pieces of all sizes. So, to answer the question, if you're imagining an average sized blade of mace, what are the dimensions? - Thanks! – Scott A Miller Oct 2 '16 at 18:28
  • I'll update later today with some dimensions by going through my own stock, so you'll know at least what I consider to be average :) – Willem van Rumpt Oct 3 '16 at 5:49
  • @ScottAMiller: Updated with an image alongside a measure tape. I'm not allowed to play in the ballpark again: Roughly 4.5x1cm (approx. 1.75" x 0.5") – Willem van Rumpt Oct 3 '16 at 14:03
  • A blade of mace, when ground, is roughtly 1/2 teaspoon. – Giorgio Oct 4 '16 at 0:00

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