Mustard seeds and mustard oil are quite essential components in Bengali kitchen. It’s widely used in several dishes for everyday cooking. Past few years or so, people are trying to avoid mustard oil and switch to vegetable oil instead. However, there are still some dishes that are incomplete without that the distinctive sharp taste that only mustard oil can give. There are countless dishes where mustard seed paste is used along with mustard oil. Yellow mustard to be precise! As a kid, it was a flavor I couldn’t embrace but now, it’s a totally different story. I enjoy cooking with mustard seeds and a jar of mustard sauce is always there in my refrigerator.
My favorite mustard sauce is the one that is also at times referred as The Bengali Kashundi, something I learnt recently. I used to think that kashundi was this individual type of sauce prepared with green mango and mustard seeds. A classic condiment, used broadly in Kolkata, from street food to everyday cooking. And then I learnt from the food blog world that there are quite different varieties of kashundi available. So why the name ‘Kashundi’! That’s something I am still unaware of.
My aunt makes a big batch of this sauce using raw mango with mustard kashundi (The Bengali Kashundi) every year. I like her homemade version much more than the store bought ones. It’s fiery and quite pungent. This season, after observing the mango overload in every nook and corner, I got inspired too.
Mustard seed is a tricky ingredient; it can make or break the dish completely. A little over grinding of the seed or minute overcooking turns any dish super bitter. Another key element for this sauce is the mustard oil. It’s the oil that makes it pungent. It’s important to coat the entire sauce in mustard oil and let it rest for a few hours. I realized that after couple of days, the taste gets much better. It brings out the beautiful balance of flavor; hint of sour, the spice of mustard seed and green chili plus that super pungency from raw mustard oil.