Kerala cuisine has many dishes where crushed or ground mustard seeds are added. It adds a unique flavour and aroma to the dish. The mustard seeds were introduced to us by Arab traders, eons ago. Mustard seeds are revered as one of the ashtadasa grains in India. From karinkaduku (black mustard), kattukaduku (wild mustard), and chenkaduku (red mustard) to naykaduku, perunkaduku (large mustards), and venkaduku (white mustard), the mustard seeds are available in many varieties. The English word mustard comes from the Latin word 'mustum' which means to shine. The mustard seeds and the oil are known for their incredible health benefits as well. The Greeks believe that the mustard was created by Asclepius, the god of medicine. Meanwhile, historians say that the ancient Romans used a special mustard sauce in their food.
It is said that mustard tempering was added in dishes 3000 years ago. Besides enhancing the flavours of the dish, mustard can increase our appetite as well. The condiment has many medicinal properties and hence the mustard tempering must be added just before the dish is served. This adds more flavour and aroma to any dish and keeps it fresh as well.
The vatahara properties of the mustard seeds make it one of the most common condiments that are used in Indian cuisine. Besides, it helps in preserving the food items as well. Ground mustard is added in pickles to prevent it from fungal attacks and from going rancid.
Mustard is a storehouse of selenium that helps ease asthma. In case someone suddenly falls unconscious grind mustard seeds and boil it in some water; spread this on the person’s palm to help them relax. Ayurveda prescribes mustard as first aid in case kids ingest poison. It can help them vomit and eliminate the poisonous substance instantly. Mustard could be used as a remedy for seizures as well.
Rubbing mustard oil could ease the joint pain and heal fungal infections like athlete's foot. It also heals cracked heels during the winter season. Consuming pea-sized mustard paste mixed with honey could ease the dry cough that bothers you in the mornings.
Mustard has been cultivated in Europe since ages. In India, it is grown in states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Mysore as a winter grain. Besides, a special kind of mustard is cultivated in Bihar, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh just to extract the oil.
Many types of mustards are used in dishes in different parts of the world. Brown mustard seeds are available in the Himalayan valley. Meanwhile, white mustard seeds are used in Europe and in some Asian countries too. However, the most delicious ones are the classic black mustard that is used in India.
Besides using in food, mustard is a major ingredient in many ayurvedic concoctions and medicines. Mustard oil is prescribed for joint pain and swelling. Besides, it is also prescribed for diabetic patients. Meanwhile, the white mustard is touted as the most potent one. Rubbing mustard paste on the forehead would ease severe headaches and migraines. This paste could be rubbed on the heels as well to soften them.
The mustard grain is the main ingredient in pickles as it enhances the taste and acts as a preservative. The mustard seeds are dried under the sun and then pressed using a rolling pin to separate the skin and make the mustard grains. You could remove the skin by dry roasting the mustard seeds and continue stirring it. Mustard has the ability to preserve food items. If the fish is a bit old, rub them with some salt and mustard powder. Wash the fish after 15 minutes and cook it as usual. Mustard and fenugreek powder could be used while roasting ingredients. Meats would be easily cooked if one or two teaspoons of mustard paste are added. The meat would be cooked nicely even if they aren't pressure-cooked, if you follow this tip.
To prevent hot oil from a spluttering, sauté the shallots and curry leaves first until the water is evaporated. Add some more oil and then splutter the mustard seeds. Add crushed mustard seeds and not finely ground mustard paste in authentic Kerala dishes like raw mango or pineapple pachadi.