Mustard, the spicy, hot condiment for many dishes. Well, that is how I know it, and I am used to the soft creamy product that everyone loves. The more I am learning and reading about the product, the more I am finding out how popular this condiment was and still is! Now, let's look at this spice closer.
Did you know that mustard belongs to a plant family called Brassicaceae together with cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, radish, horseradish, and wasabi? There are over 40 different varieties of mustard plants and only three out of those are grown for their popularity in culinary use. All parts of the mustard plant such as leaves, flowers, and seeds are edible. The three mustard plants grew globally and that shape the culinary world we know today are known for growing black, brown and white mustard seeds. These seeds are then used to produce all types of condiments depending on where you come from.
Black mustard seeds are native to North Africa and parts of Europe and Asia mainly the Middle East and Asia Minor where they originated. Brown mustard seeds are often called Chinese, Indian or Oriental mustard. You will come across different varieties of brown mustard seeds ranging from brown seed coat to dark yellow. The last variety of mustard seeds used in confectionary is yellow mustards that produce white mustard seeds that are used in the production of yellow mustard with the addition of turmeric or dye.
It is believed that mustard is the first condiment humans ever put on their food that predates black pepper. Mustard has a long vast history influencing the whole world dating back to the 6th Century BC to the greek scientists who used them for medicinal purposes. It is probably the Romans who brought the mustard seeds to France’s Burgundy region when they conquered Gauls. It is said that the Romans are the first who mixed the ground up mustard seeds together with wine to create a paste not much different from what we consume today.
The French monks who ground mustard seeds and mixed it with “must” (unfermented wine) inspired the word “mustard”, which translates from Latin mustum ardens into “burning wine”. Since then, there have been many developed recipes of mustards that describe the region of production such as “American, English aka ‘French - less spicy alternative to English’, Bavarian sweet, Italian fruity, Creole and or Midwestern beer mustard” to name a few.
Mustard was so popular by influential people like King Louis XI or Pope John XII who loved the mustard so much that they had to travel with it all the time or had their own “mustard-maker to pope” in America, mustard has its own museum called National Mustard Museum based in the heart of downtown Middleton in Wisconsin. No surprise as since mustard is the most popular condiment across the USA.
In Indian cuisine the mustard seeds date back to the Indus Valley Civilization and mustard is regarded as one of the main spices used across India. Mustard seeds are traditionally roasted until they pop, while the plant is cultivated for its flowers and green leaves that are often stir-fried and eaten as a vegetable. The seeds are also turned into oil, which is used for massages during the winter as it is believed that it will keep the body warm during winter. The mustard seed is also used for cooking. Lastly, mustard seeds are amazing when used for pickling with a long history of Indian pickle recipes.
At IB HQ, our cocktail bar, we use mustard vodka for several different cocktails such as the Bloody Mary, Fig Old Fashioned to name a few. Our is Laha, see our recipe below.
50 ml Mustard infused Vodka
30 ml Fresh Pineapple Juice
15 ml Vanilla Syrup
10 ml Lemon juice
1. Combine the first four ingredients in a shaker.
2. Add ice and hard shake.
3. Strain into a tall glass over ice, splash with soda and garnish with any green leaves.
100 gm of Good quality Vodka
18 gm of Mustard seeds
1. Crush the mustard seeds and macerate them with vodka for 24 hours.
2. Once macerated strain the seeds of infused vodka and enjoy the concoction.
Tip: Mustard seeds are volatile, so make the infusion in small batches to be used very quickly and that will help to keep the aroma and flavour.