[caption id="attachment_4463" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Mustard Greens"][/caption]
Mustard greens botanically called as Brassica juncea and also commonly known as mustard greens, Indian mustard, Chinese mustard, and leaf mustard is a species of mustard plant.
The mustard greens that adds a pungent, peppery flavor to the dish and they are normally in season from December through April when they are at their best. Adding the mustard greens to your meal enhances the taste and makes its healthy and nutritious. Mustard greens come in a host of varieties that each has distinct characteristics.
Most of the mustard greens are emerald green in color, while some are not green at all but rather shades of dark red or deep purple. The leaves of mustard greens can have either a crumpled or flat texture and may have either toothed scalloped, frilled, or lacey edges. In addition to provide wonderfully nutritious greens, this plant also produces the acrid-tasting brown seeds that are used to make Dijon mustard.
It is more than about 5000 years that the mustard greens originated in the Himalayan region of India and have been grown and consumed. Mustard greens are a notable vegetable in many different cuisines, ranging from Chinese to Southern American. Like turnip greens, they have become an integral part of Southern cuisine during the times of slavery, serving as a substitute for the greens that were an essential part of Western African food ways. Apart from India, Nepal, China and Japan being among the leading producers of mustard greens, a significant amount of mustard greens are also grown in the United States as well.
Sarson ka saag, a popular dish from the Punjabi cuisine of India and Pakistan is prepared from Brassica juncea subsp.tatsai which has a particularly thick stem and is used in making the Indian pickle called Achar and the Chinese pickle zha cai. The mustard made from the seeds of the Brassica juncea is called brown mustard. The leaves (Raai / Rai in Gujarati) are used in many Indian dishes. The mustard leaves are normally used in African cooking, and leaves, seeds, and stems are used in Indian cuisine, particular in mountain regions of Nepal, Punjab cuisine of India and Pakistan. Mustard greens with pork also known as Rayo in Nepali is the dish prepared by the Gorkhas of Darjeeling and Sikkim. It is usually eaten and relished with steamed rice and can also be eaten with chapati (Indian breads).
Mustard greens are also used in Chinese and Japanese cuisines. A wide variety of Brassica juncea are used including zha cai (tatsoi), mizuna, takana, juk gai choy and xuelihong. Asian mustard greens are mostly stir fried or pickled. Asam gai choy or kiam chai boey, a popular Southeast Asian dish is often made of leftovers from a large meal and it involves stewing of mustard greens with tamarind, dried chillies and leftover meat on the bone. Young mustard greens taste excellent in adding to salads.
Brassica juncea is more pungent than the closely-related Brassica oleracea greens (kale, cabbage, collard greens) and is frequently mixed with these milder greens in a dish of "mixed greens", which may include wild greens such as dandelion. As with other greens in soul food cooking, mustard greens are generally flavored by being cooked for a long period with ham hocks or other smoked pork products. Mustard greens are high in Vitamin A and Vitamin K.
Mustard greens provide special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development as well as cancer prevention. These three systems are (1) the body's detox system, (2) its antioxidant system, and (3) its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Chronic imbalances in any of these three systems can increase risk of cancer, and when imbalances in all three systems occur simultaneously, the risk of cancer increases significantly. Among all types of cancer, prevention of the following cancer types is most closely associated with intake of mustard greens: bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Mustard greens are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and manganese and give us highest level support for four conventional antioxidant nutrients. By providing us with a diverse array of antioxidant nutrients, mustard greens help lower our cancer risk by helping us avoid chronic and unwanted oxidative stress.
Mustard greens are an excellent source of many vitamins including vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, folate, and vitamin E. They are also an excellent source of the minerals manganese and calcium as well as dietary fiber. They are also a very good source of potassium, vitamin B6, protein, copper, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B2, and magnesium. Mustard greens are a good source of vitamin B1 and vitamin B3 (niacin).
The nutritional values of 1 cup (chopped) or 56 gms of Mustard greens are:
Carbohydrates: 2.7 g
Protein: 1.5 g
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Water: 50.8 g
Ash: 0.8 g
Calories: 61.1 KJ
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Niacin: 0.4 mg
Folate: 105 mcg
Riboflavin: 0.1 mg
Vitamin A: 5881 IU
Calcium: 57.7 mg
Magnesium: 17.9 mg
Copper: 0.1 mg
Iron: 0.8 mg
Potassium: 198 mg
Sodium: 14.0 mg
Manganese: 0.3 mg