Mustard seeds are the small round seeds of various mustard plants. The seeds are usually about 1 to 2 millimetres (0.039 to 0.079 in) in diameter and may be colored from yellowish white to black. They are an important spice in many regional foods and may come from one of three different plants: black mustard (Brassica nigra), brown Indian mustard (B. juncea), or white/yellow mustard (B. hirta/Sinapis alba).
These mustard seeds are known in Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi as sarson (Hindi?) (Indian colza, Brassica rapa subsp. trilocularis, syn. Brassica campestris var. sarson), in Bengali as sarisha () or shorshe. These are used as a spice in Pakistan, Northern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The seeds are usually roasted until they pop. They are also planted to grow saag (greens) which are stir-fried and eaten as a vegetable preparation, called sarson ka saag in Urdu and Hindi (sarson da saag in Punjabi).
In Maharashtra, it is called as mohari () in Marathi and is used frequently in Marathi recipes. Sarson ka tel (mustard oil) is used for body massage during extreme winters, as it is assumed to keep the body warm. In Bengali cuisine mustard oil or shorsher tel is the predominant cooking medium. Mustard seeds are also essential ingredients in spicy fish dishes like jhaal and paturi.
It other languages, it is known as raai (Gujarati: ), aavaalu (Telugu?), kadugu (Tamil?), saasive (Kannada: ), and kadugu (Malayalam?). A variety of Indian pickles consisting mainly of mangoes, red chilli powder, and aavaa pindi (powdered mustard seed) preserved in mustard oil, are popular in southern India with its origin in Andhra Pradesh.
Mustard seeds generally take eight to ten days to germinate if placed under the proper conditions, which include a cold atmosphere and relatively moist soil. Mature mustard plants grow into shrubs.
Mustard grows well in temperate regions. Major producers of mustard seeds include India, Pakistan, Canada, Nepal, Hungary, Great Britain and the United States. Brown and black mustard seeds return higher yields than their yellow counterparts.
In Pakistan, rapeseed-mustard is the second most important source of oil, after cotton. It is cultivated over an area of 307,000 hectares with annual production of 233,000 tonnes and contributes about 17% to the domestic production of edible oil.
Mustard seeds are a rich source of oil and protein. The seed has oil as high as 46-48%, and whole seed meal has 43.6% protein.
|Top 10 mustard seed producers in 2015|
|* = Unofficial figure | [ ] = Official data | A = May include official, semi-official or estimated data|
F = FAO estimate | Im = FAO data based on imputation methodology | M = Data not available
Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
In the Bible, Jesus tells the Parable of the Mustard Seed referring to faith and the Kingdom of God. There, Jesus says, "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade."
The earliest reference to mustard is in India from a story of Gautama Buddha in the fifth century BC. Gautama Buddha told the story of the grieving mother (Kisa Gotami) and the mustard seed. When a mother loses her only son, she takes his body to the Buddha to find a cure. The Buddha asks her to bring a handful of mustard seeds from a family that has never lost a child, husband, parent, or friend. When the mother is unable to find such a house in her village, she realizes death is common to all, and she cannot be selfish in her grief. The Buddha stated that if an individual were to pick a single mustard seed every hundred years from a seven-mile cube worth of mustard seeds, then by the time the last seed is picked, the age of the world cycle would still continue. (If a mustard seed is 3 mm in diameter, then taking one seed every 100 years from a seven-mile cube of seeds, would take 936 quintillion years, 68 billion times the age of the universe.)
Jewish texts compare the knowable universe to the size of a mustard seed to demonstrate the world's insignificance and to teach humility. The Jewish philosopher Nachmanides mentions the universe expanded from the time of its creation, in which it was the size of a mustard seed.
In the Quran the mustard seed is mentioned: "And We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is [even] the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as accountant (21:47)"  and also "[And Luqman said], "O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted (31:16)."