Indian Name and Pronunciation
Rai (pronounced as raa-ee) and Sarson (pronounced as sur-so)
Appearance, Taste, and Smell
The mustard seeds used in Indian cooking are tiny and black or dark brown in color. The seeds have a faint spicy smell much like curry leaves. They taste just like mustard in its paste form.
Mustard seeds are the most commonly utilized form of mustard in Indian cooking, with the powder rarely, if ever, being used. If you ever require the powdered form, it is advisable to buy the seeds and grind them at home as required in the recipe.
Tadka or tempering is a cooking method in which cooking oil is heated until very hot and whole spices are added to it and fried. This oil and spice mix is then added as a final touch or garnish to the dish. In Indian cooking, Rai/Sarson is often part of the Tadka in a dish.
In comparison, Rai/Sarson is used more in South Indian than in North Indian cooking. In the South, it is typically combined with green chilies and curry leaves in a tadka. It is sometimes used in paste form, for example in Eastern Indian dishes like Deemer Patudi or fish curries.
Uses Other Than Cooking
You know how jam, pickle, spice jars smell of the stuff that was in them even after being washed? Get rid of this smell by putting some mustard paste in the jar and filling with warm water. Shake well and pour out. Now wash the jar again and the smell will be gone.