Shorshe Bata – Bengali Fresh Mustard Paste

 I have featured mustard in my spice series, but lately I have gotten some questions about this basic spice base and there are enough recipes, on this site that use this particular fresh spice mixture for me to actually go ahead a do a small pictorial really on how this mixture is made.

Black mustard seed paste or shorshe bata is a fairly essential ingredient in Bengali cooking but it is used in other variations in other regional cusines across India. When ground with garlic, you get the Besara, which is essential a staple in the culinary landscape of Orissa – also an eastern Indian state.

In eastern India, this seasoning is most notoriously used for fresh fish, but there are also some wonderful vegetarian dishes that work with this sharp and creamy spice mix. Mustard pastes are used in the cooking of Andhra Pradesh and not surprisingly here it is mellowed with coconut such as in this recipe here.

 Once you get used to it, like me you will be using this for almost anything that you can thing you. I add touches of it mixed in mayonaise for a zippy ham and cheese sandwich.

Hey, we do that with mint chutney too! So why not mustard? The one word of advise before I move on this mixture does get stronger with keeping, so you can keep the soaked seeds in the refridgerator for a while but the paste will intensify in sharpness beyond a desirable degree after a few days.

So, this really is just as its name suggests a fresh spice mixture, the only trick to this when making this in a blender (and I use a wet-dry blender, that my children like to call the black noisy thing but the magic bullet works well too! However, the mechanical blender is harsher than the Indian grinding stone so what is needed is extra soaking to soften the outer skin. I soak the seeds overnight. Next it gets into the wet dry grinder and gets blitzed for 30 to 35 seconds, the deal is the mustard seeds need to be soft enough to give you this soft creamy paste during this time. And there you have it, authentic, soft and creamy mustard paste.

They need to be soaked with a couple of green chilies. They green chilies surprisingly enough, mellow out the bitterness of the mustard and add the heat needed to this spice base making it all you need for a quick-fix seasoning.

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