Monday, May 28, 2007
The Making of Mustard
Mustard is a common crop cultivated chiefly for the oil yielded by the seeds. I love it more for the cool yellow of its beautiful flowers. The golden yellow spread across the vast expanse is a heart-warming site so common in fields across north-India. In fact all the stages of mustard, right from its inception as a small plant-flower-pod-back to seed have a charm of their own. This was the first time that I got my garden help to get the seeds out and naturally I was thrilled to be able to use the seeds harvested from my own garden, having passed through all the stages in front of my very own eyes! I had sown mustard in early November last year and by December end they were giving out some lovely yellow flowers. Late February saw the flowers being converted to seedpods. I am tempted to draw an analogy with the life cycle of a butterfly where the Pupa, like the seedpod here, encloses the beautiful creature within. Although, the final result there is more visually appealing than the mustard seed, which is way more visually gratifying in its earlier incarnation as a flower. Shortly thereafter, I harvested my proud produce and left it to dry (The sizzling summer sun was very helpful!) There then, I had my garden help do the skilled bit of separating the seeds skillfully. He thrashed and pounded the dried seedpods and then sieved the seeds to separate them from the husk. After the tedious and time consuming job of dehusking is over, here is the end result. But some processing in the form of cleaning, washing and drying in the sun is still left. Finally, the seeds are ready to be used in some delectable Indian cuisines, very spicy but all the same, very tasty as well. Though mustard seeds are used in various types of Indian food, they find a very special place in south Indian cuisine, where they are used for tempering the curries.