Although more familiar in Western cuisine as an ingredient for a popular condiment, the cheeky mustard seed truly comes into its own in dishes from the Indian subcontinent. Fried in hot oil until they pop, the seeds release their full intensity, pairing well with cumin, coriander, curry leaf and fennel seeds.
The small brown and black mustard seeds have a greater potency than their larger yellow brethren, which in contrast has a milder, balanced flavour. Mustard seeds are great to add to pickling brine, lending their tangy taste to whatever is being preserved, and they are also a wonderful addition to salad dressing.
Fish finds mustard seed a welcome companion, as we see in Shaun Hill's John Dory recipe with potato rasam and in the grilled sea bass in dhal sauce from Vineet Bhatia. Simon Hulstone also makes use of mustard seed's piquancy in his marvellous mackerel pâté starter.
We can often find mustard seed working with a concert of other spices in dhal and curries, such as Alfred Prasad's monkfish curry. It is often added to sauces, like the moilee-tomato sauce used in this spice-crusted lamb recipe from Vineet Bhatia, used with turmeric, ginger and curry leaves.