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Kashundi - A classic Bengali mustard relish




Kashundi is one of the most popular mustard sauces in India and synonymous with Bengali cuisine. On a rainy day or a warm winter afternoon, kashundi can be enjoyed with your choice of fritters, chops, ribs or to spice up a simple dal chawal dish (steamed rice with lentils). In modern cooking, Aam Kashundi is also used as a marinade for meat, a dressing for salads, mixed with mayo to up the oomph factor, or as a spread for a boring sandwich.


Kashundi is the Indian version of mustard sauce. It is a classic Bengali mustard sauce made from fermented mustard seeds. Bengali snacks like chops and vegetable chops are incomplete without a serving of kashundi on the side.


What is Kashundi?

Kashundi is spicier and stronger than the classic French or British sauces. Its unique taste is the result of more than 7 days of fermentation not only of the mustard seeds but also of the other ingredients. This fermentation process greatly enhances the flavor of each ingredient, resulting in a pungent, chutney-like paste. It is very versatile and can be used as a dip for snacks, as well as for sandwiches, pizza, burgers and as a salad dressing and with vegetable puree, grilled meat, fried fish, hot rice or even stir-fried vegetable dishes.


By the way, you don't really have to wait seven days before enjoying this sauce. You can even eat it a few hours after making it. But if you want to enjoy it at the peak of your skills, then it is worth the wait.


Kashundi can be prepared at home without much effort. It's a simple recipe and it takes barely 17 minutes to mix and cook all the ingredients.


Traditionally, kashundi is prepared with unripe mangoes. For my version of kashundi, I have used turmeric, mango and fresh green chillies. For my recipe, I made a simple kashundi with black and yellow mustard seeds. The green chillies provide the necessary heat, and vinegar and unripe mango make up for the spiciness in this relish.


The untold story of Kashundi

Decades ago, Bengal was a province with a mix of sects, resulting in different cultures and traditions. The most interesting part of this cultural mix was reflected in their food, traditions, rituals and language.


Kashundi was prepared as a chutney, served with steamed rice and green chillies at the beginning of a meal. Kashundi was given the title "The Queen of Pickles" because it was an essential part of the royal meal and was prepared in such a way that it would keep for about 20 years if stored properly.


The traditional kashundi recipe was a prized possession of the royal family and upper class, so only elite women were allowed to prepare it at home. The pickling of kashundi began before the monsoon season. The entire process of making kashundi, from sorting out the high-quality mustard to preparing the condiment, was done in a very ritualistic manner.


The traces of the tradition of kashundi making have been very well described in the book "Stree Achaar" by Renuka Devi Chaudhurani, a connoisseur of Bengali cuisine. In it, she explains the process of making pickles and how women involved in it have to abide by the endless restrictions and chauvinism.


Only Brahmin women (the members of the highest caste in Hinduism) were allowed to sort out, wash, clean and dry the mustard. This mustard was then ground into powder and prepared in an earthen pot, with or without oil, depending on which woman prepared it. Generally, mustard oil was added to the mustard to prolong its shelf life and enhance its flavor.


Over the years, the preparation of kashundi gradually became an inseparable part of ordinary households as progressive thought took hold. It took quite a while for this spice to make its way into Bengali households, but it was worth the wait!


Ingredients for Kashundi

Mustard seeds - Mustard seeds come in three varieties, yellow, brown and black. The first two are used to make sauces like mustard, while the black seeds are rare and mainly used as a condiment in Indian cooking.


The yellow seeds are the mildest and the black ones the most pungent, while the brown ones are somewhat in between.


For this recipe, I opted for a combination of yellow and black mustard seeds, but you can also use just one of the two. Depending on which you choose, the flavor will be sharper or milder.


Mango - If you can't find fresh, unripe mangoes, you can make this kashundi paste with dried mangoes.


Dried fruits have a lower water content and contain more sugar, so I recommend you use about half the amount of fresh mangoes.


You can soak the dried mangoes for a few hours before using them.


Since the relish will be sweeter and denser, you can add more liquid ingredients like vinegar, oil or water.


Vinegar - I used table vinegar to give my kashundi a tart taste. You can also use apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar instead.


Green Chilies - Choose chilies according to your taste. If you want kashundi mild, use the light green chilies, which are milder in heat, and if you want it hotter, use dark green chilies.


Mustard oil - This is a key element for this sauce. It is the oil that gives the sauce its heat. Therefore, it is important to coat the entire sauce with mustard oil and let it sit for at least 2 hours.


Serving suggestions

Kashundi is stronger and spicier than any other mustard sauce. It goes very well with fried spicy delicacies and gives them the necessary spiciness and acidity.


If you want your sauces to stand out and enhance the flavor of your dishes, this is the recipe for you. The fruity and spicy notes of this mustard make it an ideal accompaniment for delicate cheeses, grilled meats, and fish. But that's not all! Use it on salads, sandwiches or spread on vegan/meat burger patties.


Storage suggestions

Kashundi will keep for a whole year if stored in a clean, sterilized, and airtight jar. I always keep my kashundi in several canning jars and store it in the freezer until needed.


Ingredients

  • 200 g Black Mustard seeds

  • 60 g Yellow Mustard seeds

  • 120 ml Table vinegar

  • 300 g unripe Mango, peeled and diced

  • 1 tbsp Turmeric powder

  • 3 to 4 fresh Green Chilies

  • 240 ml cold pressed Mustard oil

  • 1 tbsp Salt

Instructions

Coarsely grind the Mustard seeds with a spice grinder or mortar pestle, place in a bowl and set aside.

Grind the Mango cubes and Green Chilies to a paste in a food processor.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the Mango- Chili paste, ground Mustard seeds, turmeric and salt. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.

Then add table vinegar and 120 ml mustard oil.Stir and cook for only 2 minutes. Season to taste and add more Salt if necessary.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 120 ml Mustard oil, stir well and leave for 2 hours.

Once the Kashundi has reached room temperature, pour into an airtight bottle and store in the fridge.

Enjoy the Indian Mustard immediately or let it ferment in the fridge for 3 to 7 days, which I highly recommend. Fermentation enhances the spiciness and pungent flavour of Kashundi.

Serve Kashundi as a dip for snacks, as well as for sandwiches, pizza, burgers and also as a salad dressing and with vegetable puree, grilled meat, fried fish, hot rice or even stir-fried vegetable dishes.


Tips

  • You can adjust the amount of Green Chilies depending on how spicy you want your Kashundi.

  • Make sure there is no unnecessary moisture as this will shorten the shelf life of your Kashundi.

  • Do not skip the fermentation process as it enhances the balance and flavours of your Kashundi - a hint of sourness, the heat of the mustard seeds, the heat of the Green Chilies and the unique heat of the raw Mustard oil.




I look forward to hearing from you...

...if you like my blog, my recipes inspire you and your curiosity for Indian cuisine has been piqued.


Feel free to give me feedback if you would like to share your cooking accomplishments or have a suggestion for improvement. I appreciate any kind feedback. Whether via the comment function, email, Facebook or Instagram (best tagged with #heutemalindisch and @heutemalindisch, then your cooking success can also inspire others).

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