Mustard is one of the oldest spices being used since centuries. The seeds of the plant are grinded and mixed with water to form extensively used condiment called mustard. Mustard seed is also used to manufacture the very popular mustard oil, widely used in food industry. These seeds are an important ingredient in many regional cuisines. The seeds come from three different types of plants: black mustard (B. nigra), brown Indian mustard (B. juncea), and white or yellow mustard (B. hirta/Sinapis alba). The Brassica genus includes broccoli, turnips, radishes, cabbage and cauliflowers. The mustard family also includes plant grown for their leaves, like argula, a number of Oriental greens, as well as mustard greens. Three related species of mustard are grown for their seeds.
White Mustard (Brassica alba or Brassica hirta) is a round hard seed, beige or straw colored. Its light outer skin is removed before sale. With its milder flavour and good preservative qualities, this is the one that is most commonly used in ballpark mustard and in pickling.
Black Mustard seeds (Brassica nigra) are a round hard seed varying in color from dark brown to black, smaller and much more pungent than the white. Black mustard seeds are very popular as one of the cooking spices.
Brown Mustard (Brassica juncea) is similar in size to the black variety and vary in color from light to dark brown. It is more pungent than the white, less than the black.
The first medical mention of it is in the Hippocratic writings, where it was used for general muscular relief. Strong mustard has a very powerful (and painful) effect on the nasal membranes if eaten carelessly. The volatile mustard oil is a powerful irritant capable of blistering skin, in dilution as a liniment or poultice it soothes, creating a warm sensation. Mustard plasters are used as counter-irritants. Mustard is prescribed for scorpion stings and snake bites, epilepsy, toothache, bruises, stiff neck, rheumatism, colic and respiratory troubles. It is a strong emetic (used to induce vomiting) and rubefacient (an irritant) that draws the blood to the surface of the skin to warm and comfort stiff muscles. It is also useful in bath water or as a foot bath.
It is mainly used as a condiment and pickling spice. In the Indian subcontinent they are often used whole, and are quickly fried in oil until they pop to impart a flavor to the oil. The spice is widely used for its flavor and aroma in the food processing industry. Mustard oil can be extracted from the seeds. The seeds, particularly the white ones are ground into flour and are mixed to a thick paste with a little water to make the condiment mustard. Mustard oil is widely used to cook lot of eatables and dishes. Whole white mustard seed is used in pickling spice and in spice mixtures for cooking meats and seafood. Powdered mustard acts as an emulsifier in the preparation of mayonnaise and salad dressings. Powdered mustard is also useful for flavoring barbecue sauces, baked beans, many meat dishes, deviled eggs, beets and succotash. There are many ready-made types of mustard from mild and sweet to sharp and strong. They can be smooth or coarse and flavored with a wide variety of herbs, spices and liquids. These are the most commonly used of the spices in most of the Indian delicacies. The Mustard seeds have a rich and nutty flavor that adds taste to the preparations. The pungency of mustard grows when water is added to it. It can be reduced by heating it and hence is added towards the end of cooking.