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Black Mustard (Brassica nigra [L.] Koch)

Synonyms

pharmaceuticalSemen Sinapis
AlbanianDjegëz, Sinapi i zi
Amharicጥቁር ሰናፍጭ
Tikur Senafich
Arabic خردل, خردل اسود
خَرْدَل أَسْوَد, خَرْدَل
Khardal, Khardal aswad
Aramaicܚܪܕܠ, ܚܪܕܠܘܢ, ܒܪ ܓܢܬ݂ܐ
Hardal, Hardalun, Bar gantha
ArmenianՄանանեխ
Mananekh, Mananex
Assameseবেহাৰ, হৰিয়হ, সৰিয়হ
Behar, Horiyah, Xoriyah
AzeriXardal
Хардал
BasqueZiape
BelarusianМуштарда, Чорная гарчыца
Muštarda, Čornaja harčyca
Bengaliকালো সরষে, রাই সরষে, সরষা
Kalo sorse, Rai sorse, Sorsa
Bodoबेसर
Besar
BretonSezv-du
BulgarianСинап черен; Горчица сарепска (Brassica juncea)
Sinap cheren; Gorchitsa sarepska (Brassica juncea)
Chakma𑄥𑄧𑄡𑄳𑄡
Saje, Sajya, Soje, Sojya
Chinese
(Cantonese)
芥菜 [gaai choi]
Gaai choi
Chinese
(Mandarin)
芥菜 [jiè cài], 黑芥籽 [hēi jiè zǐ]
Jie cai, Hei jie zi
CatalanMostassa negra
Copticϣⲗϭⲟⲙ
Shlequm
CroatianCrna gorušica, Crna vrzina
CzechHořčice černá; Hořčice černá sitinovitá (Brassica juncea)
Danish(Sort) Sennep
Dhivehiކަޅުރެވި
Kalhurevi
DutchZwarte mosterd, Junceamosterd, Sareptamosterd
Dzongkhaཔེ་ག་
Payga tsen, Pega
EnglishBlack mustard seed, Brown mustard seed, Indian mustard
EsperantoNigra sinapo
EstonianMust kapsasrohi
Farsiخردل, خردل سیاه
Khardel, Khardel siyah
FinnishMustasinappi
FrenchMoutarde noire, Moutarde brune, Moutarde de l’Inde, Moutarde de Chine
FrisianMoster
GaelicSgeallan dubh
GalicianMostarda, Mostaza
GaroBesual, Pesual, Sirso
Georgianმდოგვი
Mdogvi
GermanSchwarzer Senf, Braunsenf
GreekΣινάπι μαύρο, Σιναπόσπορος
Sinapi mauro, Sinaposporos
Greek (Old)Νᾶπυ, Σίναπι
Napy, Sinapi
Gujaratiરાઇ
Rai
HausaMastad
Hebrewחרדל שחור, כרוב שחור
חַרְדָּל שָׁחוֹר, כְּרוּב שָׁחוֹר
Hardal shahor, Kruv shahor
Hindiकाली राई, काली सरसों, लाल सरसों, राई, सरसों
Kali rai, Kali sarson, Lal sarson, Rai, Sarson
HmarAnthrammu
HungarianFekete mustármag; Barna mustármag (brown mustard)
IcelandicMustarðskorn
IndonesianSesawi hitam, Biji sesawi hitam; Sesawi coklat, Biji sesawi coklat (Br. juncea)
ItalianSenape nera
Japanese黒芥子
くろがらし
クロガラシ, ブラックマスタード
Kuro-garashi, Burakku-masutado
Kannadaಸಾಸಿವೆ
Sasive
Kashmiriآسر, آسور
Ausur, Assour
KazakhҚышы, Қыша
Qışı, Qışa
KhasiTyrso
Korean흑겨자, 머스타드, , 양겨자
Hukkyeoja, Hukkyoja, Meosutadu, Mosutadu; Kas, Gas, Yanggyeoja, Yanggyoja (Brassica junceae)
Laoມັດສະຕາດ
Matsatat
LatvianMelnā sinepes; Sareptas sinepes (Brassica juncea)
LithuanianJuodasis bastutis, Juodosios garstyčios; Sereptinis bastutis (Brassica juncea)
Macedonianцрн синап
Crn sinap
Maithiliराई
Rai
MalaySawi, Biji sawi
Malayalamകടു, കടുക്
Kadu, Kadugu
Manipuri (Meitei-Lon)হংগাম
ꯍꯪꯒꯥꯝ
Hangam
Marathiमोहरी
Mohari
MizoAntram
MongolianХар гич
Har gich
Naga (Angami)Gakrie
Naga (Mao)Ozowoo
Naga (Rongmei)Ganang
Naga (Tangkhul)Kayānghan
Nepaliतोरी, राई
Tori, Rai
Newari
(Nepalbhasa)
रायो, पका, तु
Rayo, Paka, Tu
NorwegianSvartsennep
Oriyaସୋରିଷ
Sorissa
PahlaviSpandaan
PolishGorczyca czarna, Kapusta czarna; Gorczyca sarepska (Brassica juncea)
PortugueseMostarda (preta)
Punjabiਰਾਈ
Rai
RomanianMuștar negruMuştar negru
RussianГорчица чёрная, Горчица черная; Горчица сарептская
Gorchitsa chyornaya, Gorchitsa chernaya; Gorchitsa sareptskaya (Brassica juncea)
SanskritKrishnika, Krishnasarshapa
SantaliTuri, Rai turi, Man turi, Lutni
SerbianЦрна слачица, Горчица црна
Crna slačica, Gorčica crna
Sinhalaඅබ
Aba
SlovakHorčicové semená, Horčica čierna
SlovenianČrna gorčica, Črna ogrščica; Siva gorčica (Brassica juncea)
SpanishMostaza negra, Mostaza de Indias
SwahiliHaradali
SwedishBrunsenap, Svartsenap
TagalogMustasa
Tamilகடூகூ
Kadugu
Teluguఆవాలు
Avalu
Thaiมัสตาร์ด
Mastar
Tigrinyaሰናፍጭ ጸሊም
Senafech tselim
Tuluದಸೆಮಿ
Dasemi
TurkishKara hardal, Hardal, Siyah hardal tohum
TurkmenGara gorçitsa
Гара горчица
UkrainianГірчиця чорна; Гірчиця сарептська
Hirchytsya chorna; Hirchytsya sareptska (Brassica juncea)
Urduرائی, سرسوں
Rai, Sarson
UzbekQora xantal, Qora gorchitsa
Қора хантал, Қора горчица
VietnameseHắc giới, Cải đen
Hac gioi, Cai den
WelshMwstart du
Yiddishשװאַרצער זענעפֿט, שװאַרצע גאָרטשיצע, שװאַרצע מושטאַרדע
Shvartser zeneft, Shvartse gortshitse, Shvartse mustarde
Brassica nigra: Black Mustard (flowering tops)
Black Mustard (flowering plant)
Brassica nigra: Black mustard in bloom
Black mustard in flower
Brassica nigra: Black mustard field in flower
Black mustard field
Brassica nigra: Black mustard seeds
Black Mustard seeds
Used plant part

Seed grains. These are globular, dark brown and about one milli­meter in dia­meter. The brown mustard species’ seeds (see below) are larger (up to 2 mm) and some­what lighter col­oured.

In China, brown mus­tard is also used as a veg­etable. This involves a cultivated variety (Br. juncea var. tsatsai) with swollen, fleshy stems and leaf bases. The vegetable is cured with salt and chile paste and left to ferment; the finished product is known in English as Chinese pickled mustard or Sichuan vegetable (Chinese zha cai [榨菜]).

Plant family

Brassic­aceae (cab­bage family).

Sensory quality

The dried seeds do not have any fra­grance, but exhibit a pungent taste after some time of chewing. Roasted seeds (more gray in colour) have a rich, nutty odour.

Main constituents

Black mustard contains about 1% sinigrin (allyl­glucosinolate), a thioglycoside-like compound (a so-called glucosinolate) of ally isothiocyanate with glucose. By action of the enzyme myrosinase, allyl isothiocyanate, a pungent, lachrymatory and volatile compound, is liberated (0.7% of the dried seed). Besides allyl isothiocyanate, in Romanian Brown Mustard another related compound is found, namely crotonyl isothiocyanate (2-butenylisothiocyanate).

Isothiocyanates are also the main ingredients of white mustard, horseradish, wasabi, rocket and cress, all of which belong to the same plant family. The more distantly related capers similarly owe their pungency to an isothiocyanate.

Note that isothiocyanates are aggressive substances that have the function of a chemical weapon against herbivorous animals. They are dangerous also to plants; therefore, the isothiocyanates are stored in the plant organism as glucosinolates (formerly called thioglycosides) which are harmless. The free isothiocynates are quickly formed by enzymatic reaction whenever the plant tissue gets damaged. Although the chemical details are much different, the basic functionality of this defence system is similar to that found in cyanide-producing plants like almond.

Brassica nigra: Ripening black mustard pods
Black mustard fruits
Brassica nigra: Ripening black mustard pods
Ripening black mustard pods
Brassica nigra: Black mustard flowers
Black mustard flowers

Like most seeds, mustard seeds contain also significant amounts of fatty oil (30%), which is used extensively for cooking in India (beware: the term mustard oil is both used for this fatty oil and the pure iso­thio­cyanates). Besides glycerides of linoleic and linolenic acid, mustard oil contains glycerides of erucic acid, which is considered harmful to human health; furthermore, traces of free iso­thiocyanates may be found in mustard oil. There­fore, de­spite its high frac­tion of un­satu­rated fatty acids (io­dine in­dex is 105), mus­tard oil can­not be rec­om­mended with­out quali­fi­ca­tion for cook­ing pur­poses (see also be­low).

Origin

Black mus­tard is probab­ly en­demic in the Sou­thern Medi­terra­nean region, but has been culti­vated since thou­sands of years; there­fore, nu­merous culti­vars are found.

Botanically different, though of equal use in the kitchen, are the Sarepta mustard or Roma­nian Brown Mustard (Br. juncea) from Eastern Europe and the Indian Brown Mustard (Br. integri­folia or Br. juncea, a fertile hybrid from Br. nigra and Br. campes­tris) from India and Central Asia. Of all three species, the latter is probably most commonly sold in the West.

Although the pungency of black mustard is slightly stronger than that of brown mustard, black mustard is hardly planted in Europe anymore, and brown mustard is the dominating quality on the European market. The reason is that brown mustard, unlike black mustard, can be harvested by machines which make production much cheaper in countries where working force is expensive.

Etymology

The German Senf is a loan from Latin sinapi, as well as the Old English senep (preparation of mustard paste was introduced to central and Northern Europe by the Romans). The Latin term is probably from Greek (sinapi [σίναπι], also napy [νᾶπυ]); loans in other European tongues include Italian senape, Swedish senap and Yiddish zeneft [זענעפֿט].

The origin of sinapi is not known; it is certainly not Greek. Based on a short remark by Pliny, it has often been assumed to be a loanword from Egypt, although no corresponding Egyptian word could be found (Coptic sinarbi [ⲥⲓⲛⲁⲣⲃⲓ] looks more like a borrowing from Greek). A more modern approach puts sinapi into relation with Sanskrit sarshapa [सर्षप], identifying the latter as a non-Indo–European loan of Central Asian origin (the reconstructed form would be sinshap in the unknown language of the BMAC in Bactria). In that case, even Malay sawi might be akin, demonstrating the ability of words to travel vast disances even in the Bronze Age.

Sinapi is also the word used in the New Testa­ment for mustard; it appears in the famous Parable of the Mustard Seed found in all syn­optic gospels. Yet, Matthew and Luke com­pare mustard with a bird-housing tree (dendron [δένδρον], see also juniper for more linguistic notes) which is hardly tenable, as mustard is an annual herb whose tender branches cannot support birds. Mark gets the facts better when he calles the mustard plant the largest of all garden plants (lachanon [λάχανον]) and places the birds in the shadow of the branches on the ground below the plant. See also pomegranate about plants in the Bible.

Mustard (and similar words in Ro­mance lan­guages, and the German Mostrich for mustard paste) is derived from Latin (vinum) mustum, must. Although mustard paste is today pre­dominantly prepared with vinegar and wine, the Romans (who made mustard seeds popular in Central and Western Europe) used must (young wine).

The Sanskrit names krishnaka [कृष्णक] and krishnasarshapa [कृष्णसर्षप] derive from an adjective krishna [कृष्ण] black (see also nigella).

Lastly, the genus name Brassica is Latin for cabbage, which belongs to the same genus. The origin of that word is dark; it is, however, attested in quite early Latin literature (Cato, around 200 B.C.) and thus unlikely to be a loanword from the North; this becomes even more plausible when the multitude and importance of cabbage vegetables in Roman diet are considered. Thus it is most likely that potential cognates like Welsh bresychen and German Wirsing cabbage are borrowings from Latin and not the other way round. Surprisingly, German etymological dictionaries trace Wirsing not to Brassica but, via Lombard verza cabbage, to Latin viridis green which I find much less convincing, both semantically and phonologically.

See nigella for the etymology the colour name black.

Selected Links

Indian Spices: Mustard (indianetzone.com) Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Senf (rezkonv.de via archive.org) A Pinch of Mustard (www.apinchof.com) A Pinch of Mustard (www.apinchof.com) The Epicentre: Mustard Medical Spice Exhibit: Mustard (via archive.org) (via archive.org) Transport Information Service: Mustard Sorting Brassica names (www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au) Transport Information Service: Mustard Oil chemikalienlexikon.de: Allylisothiocyanat Floridata.com: Mustard Greens (Brassica juncea) Herbs by Linda Gilbert: Mustard Fallot: Mustard with a Strong Tradition Mustard (purdue.edu) Indian Brown Mustard (purdue.edu) Production of Nepali mustard oil


Brassica nigra: Flowering black mustard
Flowering black mustard
The world’s harvest of black and brown mustard seeds is only to a small part used for the production of mustard paste. This is because mustard paste made from black mustard is very pungent, probably too strong for many applications in Western cuisines; yet this pungency is not stable but decreases and finally vanishes with time. Chemically, the pungent principle of black mustard seeds, allyl isothiocyanate, is instable towards water but shows a slow hydrolysis, i. e., it gets destroyed by water slowly. For that reason, white mustard is usually preferred for the making of mustard pastes.

There are, however, also mustard types made from a mixture of black and white mustard seeds, and some very pungent specialty mustards ndeed contain pure black mustard seeds. In order to keep the pungency stable, these stronger mustard pastes usually contain more acidic components than the milder products based on white mustard seeds. See white mustard for more information on mustard pastes. See also negro pepper for a comparative review on pungent spices.

Black mus­tard is more im­portant as a spice and oil plant, espe­cially in India (see also sesame about veg­etable oils in general). Indian mustard oil is really essen­tial for the authentic flavours of several Indian regional cuisines; it is widely used in Kashmir, Maharashtra and neighbouring Goa (see tamarind for the famous Goan pork curry vindaloo [विंदालू] which also uses mustard oil).

The epicenter of mustard oil usage, however, is the Indian union state West Bengal and Bangladesh, where it is known as sarisar tel [সরিষার তৈল] It is the preferred cooking medium and contributes a characteristic flavour which is particularly noticeable as intensive spices are used with moderation in Bengali cooking (see also nigella).

Mustard oil produced in Bengal often contains enough isothiocynates to have a pungent mustard flavour and is often used as a flavouring, e. g., by dribbling the oil over boiled vegetables before serving. It is also used in pickled raw vegetables (achar [अचार]), where it contributes pungency and acts as a preservative. Such oil is difficult to obtain outside of India, and people in the West will have to substitute it by mustard paste (preferably of dijon type, see white mustard) or mustard powder (of the Colman type, see also white mustard); I wonder whether freshly grated horseradish might also work.

Brassica nigra: Mustard field in Kathmandu valley, Nepal
Mustard field in Nepal

The Indian sub­continent knows of another special quality of mustard oil: In the Newar-inhabited part of the country, parti­cularly in­side the Kath­mandu valley, mustard oil is produced from toasted mustard seeds. Called bhuteko tori-ko-tel [भुटेको तोरीको तेल], it has a deep brown colour and lacks any mustard-type pungency, but exhibits a smoky, full flavour not unlike Chinese sesame oil. As its Chinese counterpart, that oil is used as a seasoning to various cold dishes in the Newari cuisine (see also garlic for examples). See below on the direct use of toasted mustard seeds in Indian cooking.

However, because of the erucic acid and maybe also the isothiocyanates, mustard oil is not a legal foodstuff in most western countries, including the EU and the USA, and it must not be sold as cooking oil. Nevertheless, Indian food shops often sell mustard oil, but to circumvent these paternalistic laws, their mustard oil is labelled For external use only. There is no need to take that remark seriously, although mustard oil does have cosmetic use in India (e. g. as hair balm). In India, it is common to heat mustard oil initially to high temperature, up to the smoking point, and let it then cool down to regular cooking temperature, or even to room temperature, before the cooking proceeds. Although I don’t know for sure, this heating procedure might be useful for detoxification (or, maybe, it just improves the taste, as does the toasting of dry spices); in any case, it’s a good idea to follow that praxis.

Brassica nigra: Black mustard flowers
Black mustard flowers

In North and particu­larly South India, black mustard seeds are directly used as a spice. They are always fried in fat, or dry-toasted, before usage; by this procedure, they acquire a grayish hue (cover the pan with a lid, as the seeds will pop and disperse themselves all over the kitchen if left open). After that heat treatment, their character is completely altered: They are no longer pungent, but display an interesting nutty and smoky taste hardly comparable to anything else on the spice shelf. This is a typical south Indian cooking technique; together with asafetida, curry leaves and the canonical cumin, they often appear in Tamil vegetable curries. See also onion for the procedure of frying spices as the first steps in in recipe, and ajwain on spiced oil that serves as the last-stage seasoning of a food.

Black mustard seeds are also a component in the Bengali spice mixture panch phoron (see nigella) and the South Indian composition sambar podi (see coriander). In both cases, the mustard seeds receive the usual heat treatment either during the preparation of the spice mix, or later in the cooking process. Raw mustard seeds with all the pungency retained are rare in India; yet a fresh-made paste from ground mustard seeds and water is common in Greater Bengal, the spice mango pickle avakaya [ఆవకాయ] from Andhra Pradesh in South India.

In Western cooking, black mustard seeds are more rarely used as a spice. If tried, they should be crushed and soaked in water to give an improvised mustard paste, or added in the ground state. Note that boiling inactivated the enzymes necessary for the formation of the pungent taste, and therefore it hardly makes sense to add intact mustard seeds to boiling foods; also, if the flavour is allowed to develop in the cold, heating will quickly destroy the already formed isothiocyanates. Yet ground dry or moist mustard seeds can be effective if addeded to cold or lukewarm foods, and will then display an unusual mustard flavour. They should be added as late as possible if some traces of mustard pungency are desired.



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