Friday, 1 April 2016

The Spice Rack: Black Mustard Seeds


The final touch...

The flames were slowly tickling the hard exterior of the small black skillet, gently heating it up. It was time to put the finishing touch to the Pazha Manga Curry (Ripe Mangoes in a Coconut Gravy) and with that, lunch would be served. A generous bit of coconut oil was poured and a practised hand let spill the ingredients one by one. Mustard seeds crackled, sliced shallots gracefully browned, bits of dried chillies sizzled and curry leaves protested.

The intense smell of heated coconut oil coupled with that of the tempered ingredients wafted through the house, putting various people in action.

Some took it as a sign to carry plates and cutlery to the corridor in which the long dining table has been residing since long.

Curries were poured into serving bowls, Fish and Roasts were placed into serving platters and a house-help sent the brown speckled rice, which till then was put to drain in a seemingly precarious arrangement, cascading onto a wide rimmed plate.

The ones who were on a game of chess or playing cards slowly got up.

Those who had their heads bent, searching the newspaper for any small bits of news that might have been missed earlier took it as a good time to put a pause to the intense perusal.

The younger generation, who till then thought it was a pity to be inside the house when there was the water channel and row boat outside (and of course fishes, tortoises and various other thriving elements of nature) only needed a gentle prodding now.

One by one they all came and occupied a seat at the grandfather table.

Once again, for a time of togetherness...
Notes:
  1. Mustard Seeds can be of three different types - White (Yellow), Brown or Black (in the increasing order of their pungency.)
  2. Black Mustard Seeds are used in dishes across India. They are used more commonly for tempering than as a base flavour in dishes from Kerala unlike say, Bengali Cuisine which uses Mustard Seed Paste (Shorshe Bata) quite extensively in curries.

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