Snackcrafting: Punjabi-Spiced Mustard

Mustard is used in various forms in Indian cuisine; the seeds, brown or yellow, are ground into masalas or fried in tarka, and super-pungent mustard oil is used for frying vegetables or poured over fermented pickles. But with all of the ubiquity of mustard in Indian cuisine, a paste primarily consisting of ground mustard seeds doesn't seem to make the cut. The closest thing I've found is Bengali kasundi, a chutney incorporating mustard seeds but relying heavily on tomato and onion.

But come on! Mustard complements so many other spices used in Indian food—not to mention many American-style mustards use turmeric, used heavily in Indian food, for that vivid yellow color. I'm almost offended that this isn't already more of a thing.

Mustard heat and chili heat are subtly different—think nasal-clearing versus tongue-burning—but if you like the burn, they're a natural pairing. The garam masala is an easy way to round it out with some interesting, non-heat flavor. While I used a store-bought North Indian garam masala from Punjab Groceries and Halal Meat in Abell, if you're feeling extra ambitious you could make your own from whole spices.

Obviously, this mustard could be used like a traditional mustard—on burgers or dogs, in deviled eggs or potato salad, whisked into a vinaigrette for salad or roasted vegetables. But I think it would particularly shine on some Indian-American fusion-type dishes: It was great on a fried paneer sandwich, and a lightly spiced lamb burger also comes to mind. Whatever you use it on, it will give a little hint of spice that marries perfectly with the natural mustard heat.

Punjabi-Spiced Mustard
Adapted from Homemade Mustard by David Lebovitz
Makes about 1 cup

blender, immersion blender, or food processor

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder, more if desired
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

In a stainless steel bowl, mix yellow mustard, brown mustard, cumin, and coriander seeds. Stir in white wine vinegar and water. Cover and let sit for 2 days, until the seeds are swollen with liquid.

Transfer seeds and liquid to a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender. Add remaining ingredients. Blend to your desired texture—a chunky mustard with whole or roughly cracked seeds, a smooth puree, or somewhere in between.

The mustard will be bitter as hell at first. Let it mellow in the fridge for several days. After it has calmed down and you have a better idea of the taste, add more chili powder, if desired, for extra heat.

Store in the fridge. It is unlikely the mustard will "go bad," so to speak—mustard oil has some seriously antibacterial properties. That said, it will eventually dry out and lose its punch, so I would recommend enjoying it within about 6 months. If it does dry out, revive it by mixing in a little bit of water, wine, or beer.

Snackcrafting is a blog series about culinary creativity with a dash of arts-and-crafts panache. Fill your pantry, fridge, and freezer with homemade goodies to eat and share.

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