I am fond of using whole spices for tempering therefore used mustard seeds along with cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida & nigella seeds. Thereafter used some cilantro and kasuri methi for finishing. What I noticed was that the lentils had a lil bitter after taste. Although previously I have used this spice blend minus mustard seeds a number of times without fail. What I know for sure is that I can take out mustard and make the tempering good again but somehow I want to use mustard seeds along. What else should I incorporate to bend mustard seeds in the spice mix to make it balanced?
There's quite some bitter components in there:
- Nigella seeds
- Mustard seeds
In general to balance bitterness, you either add salt, fat, or sugar.
In yours case, maybe the addition of the mustard seeds pushed the bitterness just beyond what you like. So quite possibly you could also choose to reduce the amount of nigella seeds and fenugreek.
Tempering with whole spices is often a good idea and brings out a nice flavor to the dish. I am an avid south Indian cuisine lover and cook it on an almost daily basis. Which means i use mustard seeds in my cooking everyday and may be 3 times of the day. Not even once i have come across the bitter taste mentioned. One thing is, if the mustard seeds are sauteed for a long time than requested it WILL turn bitter. So always keep the seeds in oil just till the last seed pops up and not a second after that. By which i mean, immediately add the next ingredient. (Be it onion or tomato or water, lentils) may be. Good luck and Tasty cooking!