Fenugreekseed (Methi-dana)

Short Description Mustard Seeds. Mustard seeds of the various mustard plants are among the smallest of seeds. The seeds are about 3mm in diameter, and may be colored from yellowish white to black. They are important spices in many regional cuisines. The seeds can come from three different plants: black mustard (Brassica nigra), brown Indian mustard (B. juncea), and white mustard. Indians have used mustard seeds in their food for over two thousand years. Mustard seeds are also known as "Sarson" and is very popular in North India. In North sarson ka Saag is very popular. "Sarson ka tel" Mustard oil is very good for body massage during extreme winters, as it keeps the body warm and moist. Black mustard is a staple of Indian and Ethiopian cooking. Its a very hot mustard that really spices up curries. Due to its high content of volatile oil, this spice is also used medicinally in the traditional “mustard plaster”.

There are three types of mustard seed to look out for when shopping. The most common, Stateside anyway, is the plain jane mustard seed, pictured above. It's my favorite for pickles, meat rubs, and European and Western dishes like Boston Baked Beans. Yellow mustard seeds have a balanced, not-too-intense flavor, and their light color makes them easy to cook when heating them in hot oil (as their color darkens, you can pull them off the heat before they turn black and burn).

If you like your mustard with more kick, or have Indian cuisine set in your sights, brown/black mustard is the way to go. It's the same size as common yellow mustard seeds but with a more intense flavor that tastes more mustardy. Whole-seed deli mustards and dijon mustards use black seeds to get their piquant punch. I use these in all manners of curry, lentil soups, sautéed potato dishes, and roasted vegetables, especially when blended with other spices.

Less well-known, but worth having around are hot mustard seeds, also called "Chinese" or, if your merchant isn't feeling especially PC, "Oriental." Hot mustard seeds are much smaller than yellow or brown varieties, though they pack quite a wallop. To my taste, they're hotter but less interesting than brown mustard seeds. I like them for quick stir fries, especially with greens, where there aren't other spices to get in the way. While brown mustard seeds contribute complexity to spice blends, I think hot mustard seeds are best for adding zip to milder ingredients, like spinach.