Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Think Spice... Think Mustard

Mustard is one of the oldest, least expensive and most widely used spices. For centuries, it has been used in cooking and as a medicine. Originally, it was the condiment, not the plant that was called mustard.

Mustard is a seed grain. Generally, it is globular, dark brown and just about one mm in diameter. Though mustard does not have any aroma, it has a very sharp and fiery flavour, which is more relevant. Precisely, there are three different kinds of mustard. White mustard is a round hard seed, beige or straw coloured. It is milder in flavour and has good preservative qualities. Black mustard is a round hard seed, varying in colour from dark brown to black, smaller and much more pungent than the white. Brown mustard is the same size as the black mustard, vary in colour from light to dark brown and is more pungent than the white, less than the black.

Mustard Seeds

Mustard seeds are used whole, ground into powder or processed further into prepared mustard. The leaves are used mainly in Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking. Whole seeds are used in pickling. It especially adds piquancy to Sauerkraut and is sometimes used in marinades as well. Mustard is an important spice in Indian cooking for it is the main ingredient used for tempering; the whole seeds are fried until it pops, producing a milder nutty flavour. It is also ground with other spices to prepare curry powders. Mustard oil is piquant oil that may be used in cooking. Powdered mustard is simply finely ground mustard seed that acts as an emulsifier in the preparation of mayonnaise and salad dressings. Mustard seeds could be stored for up to a year in a cool and dry area, away from light. Powdered mustard stays for about 6 months.

Over 4000 years ago, the ancient Greeks believed mustard had been created by Asclepius, the god of healing, as a gift to mankind. Mustard oil is a powerful irritant. It could cause blistering of skin but then, when diluted as a liniment or poultice it soothes and creates a warm sensation. Mustard plasters are used to counter irritants. Mustard has been used for scorpion stings, snake bites, epilepsy, toothache, bruises, stiff neck, rheumatism, colic and respiratory troubles. It is used to induce vomiting and an irritant that draws the blood to the surface of the skin to warm and comfort stiff muscles. Mustard is also used for bathing.

I personally feel that mustard ought to be used more innovatively in cooking. Therefore, here goes my entry for the Think Spice Event.

Mustardy Sweet and Sour Chicken

What do we need:

3 pieces chicken breast

1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 carrot
1 celery stick
1/2 red capsicum
1 medium onion
1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1 cup water
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard powder
freshly milled pepper

1 tsp corn flour
1 tbsp water

How do we do it:

Combine the marinade ingredients. Cut each chicken breast into 6 pieces. Marinade the chicken pieces for at least 30 minutes.

Slice carrot into thin rings. Dice the celery in 1 cm thickness. Cut the capsicum into 1 inch size pieces and quarter the onion.

Fry the marinated chicken pieces in highly heated oil for 2 minutes. Add carrot, celery and water. Simmer until the chicken has cooked. Add capsicum, onion and pineapple chunks. Stir in the mustard powder and season well. Finally, combine the thickening ingredients and stir in. When the sauce starts to thicken, remove from heat.

Serve Mustardy Sweet and Sour Chicken with hot piping rice.


Shankari said...

I made a savory version of your coconut bun and it is a suuperb hit...I have posted it in my blog

Nabeela said...

The chicken looks delicious...as does your cake for Mahisha :)

Asha said...

Cake 2 looks yum and chicken looks out of this World.Glad you are blogging regularly now!:))

Jeena said...

Hi thankyou so much for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely comment. I think your blog is great I would love to exchange links with you, I have already added your link to my blog :) could you add me to yours? Can't wait to see more of your recipes. :)

Jeena xx

(Jeena's Kitchen)

sunita said...

That's a lovely chicken recipe...thanks.

Puspha said...

Shankari- Thank u very much for trying it out. Very happy tat u liked it.

Jeena- Thanx a lot for adding me. I'm done with urs.

Nabeela, Asha & Sunita- Thank u.

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