Brassica nigra, the black mustard, is an annual plant cultivated for its black or dark brown seeds, which are commonly used as a spice. It is native to tropical regions of North Africa, temperate regions of Europe, and parts of Asia.
More than 2,000 years ago, the plant was used as a condiment, it was mentioned by the Roman author Columella in the 1st century A.D. The plant leaves were also pickled in vinegar. In the 13th century France the seeds were ground and used. They were mixed with partially fermented grape juice to create "mout-ardent" (or burning must). This became later "moutarde", now called Mustard in English.
A spice is generally made from ground seeds of the plant, with the seed coats removed. The small (1 mm) seeds are hard and vary in color from dark brown to black. They are flavorful, although they have almost no aroma. The seeds are commonly used in Indian cuisine, for example in curry, where it is known as rai. The seeds are usually thrown into hot oil or ghee, after which they pop, releasing a characteristic nutty flavor. The seeds have a significant amount of fatty oil, mainly Oleic acid. This oil is used often as cooking oil in India, it is called "sarson ka tel".
In Ethiopia, where it is cultivated as a vegetable in Gondar, Harar, and Shewa, the shoots and leaves are consumed cooked and the seeds used as a spice. Its Amharic name is senafitch.
Black mustard is thought to be the seed mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 13:31-32.
Mustard seeds are the small round seeds of various mustard plants. The seeds are usually about 1 or 2 mm in diameter. Mustard seeds may be colored from yellowish white to black. They are important herbs in many regional foods. The seeds can come from three different plants: black mustard (Brassica nigra), brown Indian mustard (B. juncea), and white mustard (B. hirta/Sinapis alba).
Raai (Gujarati),Mohari (Marathi), aavalu (Telugu), kadugu (Tamil), or sasive (Kannada), kadugu (Malayalam) variety of Indian pickle consisting mainly of mangoes, red chilli powder, and aavaa pindi (powdered mustard seed) preserved in mustard oil, is popular in southern India with its origin in Andhra Pradesh.
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