The Heart Health Connection

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This blog has often written about how Mustard Oil is an excellent choice for keeping the heart healthy. We keep reiterating this fact because there’s an enormous amount of misinformation being spread by other edible oils (especially refined oils) claiming to be good for the heart – without any evidence to support their claims.

When you choose to make cold-pressed Mustard Oil your regular cooking medium you have, for starters, selected an oil that is 100 percent natural. Very good! You are using an oil that contains no chemicals or additives.

Among all cooking oils, Mustard Oil has the lowest levels of saturated fatty acids, and that’s good news for your heart. At the same time, Mustard Oil is rich in Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) and Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) – which again are good for your heart. Mustard Oil is also one of the largest vegetarian sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and offers a ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 that comes closest to the ideal ratio recommended by the World Health Organization.

It gets better. Mustard Oil can help your body to repair any damage caused to myelin sheaths – these are the protective sheaths that cover your heart and blood vessels. This attribute of Mustard Oil comes from its natural ability to enhance good cholesterol (HDL) while controlling the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) – thereby improving the overall Triglyceride balance in your lipid profile.

And remember, there’s that landmark study published in the Journal of Preventive Cardiology that reveals switching to mustard oil as your sole cooking medium can reduce the incidence of heart disease by over 70 percent.

So don’t let other cooking oils fool you with their erroneous, unsubstantiated and misleading claims. Mustard Oil is the one that is proven to be good for the heart.

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The Way Grandma Made It!

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The Puri is a very common accompaniment for various food dishes, especially across north India. However, the Puri that you find in restaurants and other eateries tastes nothing like the fresh, piping hot ones that your grandmother and mother used to make for you at home. That’s probably because these commercial eateries use inferior (or highly processed) ingredients, too much oil – and they overdo the spices as well. So we went back to various octogenarian ladies we know and asked them to share their recipe for the famous Indian Puri. So here we go…

You need a simple set of ingredients for this recipe:

  • Wheat Flour (Atta): 400 grams
  • Gram Flour (Besan): 200 grams
  • Maize Flour (Makkai Ka Atta): 200 grams
  • Mustard Oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Chilli Powder: Half a teaspoon
  • Fenugreek (Methi) Leaves: 1 tablespoon
  • Salt: to taste

Preparation:

Wash, clean and chop the Fenugreek leaves into small pieces.

In a mixing bowl, add the Wheat, Gram and Maize flour along with the chopped Fenugreek leaves, the chilli powder and salt. Add a little water and knead this mixture into a soft dough.

Tear off small portions of this dough and shape them into balls. Then roll each ball into a small Puri, around 5 inches in diameter.

Method:

Heat the Mustard Oil in a Kadai. When the oil reaches its smoking point, add each Puri to the oil (one at a time) and deep fry till they turn golden brown in colour.

You may notice that in some homes, people place the Puri on a paper napkin to drain the excess oil. You don’t need to do so – for two reasons. First, Mustard Oil is very healthy and good for your heart, digestion and blood circulation. And second, in frying and cooking, Mustard Oil has a unique property – it is least absorbed in your food in comparison with other cooking oils.

Your delicious Puris – and your mouth-watering childhood memories – are now ready to be served. If you want to serve them just the way Grandma did, add a spoon of white butter on the side of the plate. Let the flashback begin!

Ready or Not?

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Some people using Mustard Oil in a recipe for the first time get confused by the instruction: Heat the mustard oil in a pan till it reaches its smoking point. The confusion stems from the fact that other oils don’t have any such instructions.

Mustard Oil has a high smoking point – which makes it ideal for Indian cooking and deep-frying. Indian food, especially the gravy dishes, require extended periods of heating and cooking, and Mustard Oil with its high smoking point has a distinct advantage over other oils in this regard because it retains all its natural nutrients even when the oil reaches its smoking point.

When Mustard Oil reaches its smoking point it emits a white misty smoke; in the old days, this smoke acted as a natural insect repellent, keeping mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies away from the kitchen and the food. On reaching its smoking point, the oil emits a gentle silky heat and takes on a translucent golden colour and texture. It’s beautiful!

So how can you tell when your Mustard Oil is ready for you to begin cooking? First of all, your nose will tell you when the time is right. The smoke rising from the pan will fill your kitchen with a warm, aromatic pungency. There’s another simple “test” that your grandmother’s (or mother’s) generation used. They would take a raw onion peel and drop it into the oil and take it out immediately with a spoon or ladle. If the onion peel turns brown, your Mustard Oil is ready.

And when your Mustard Oil is ready, the culinary magic in your kitchen is all set to begin.

Potato, Spinach, Mustard Oil and Wow!

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Winter is that time of year when piping hot snacks are always welcome. Here’s a delightful little dish that combines potatoes, spinach and mustard oil to create a zingy crunchy experience that goes well with hot tea or coffee, especially when the sun begins disappearing over the horizon on a winter’s evening.

Here are the ingredients that you will require:

  • Potatoes: 300 grams
  • Mustard Oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard Seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Spinach: 1 bunch of leaves
  • Whole Wheat Flour: 150 grams
  • Rice Flour: 1 teaspoon
  • Green Chillies: 2
  • Lemon: 1
  • Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 1 tablespoon
  • Salt: to taste

Preparation:

Boil, peel and mash the potatoes.

Crush the green chillies into a paste.

Take a little oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the mustard seeds till they begin to splutter. Remove the pan from the flame and keep aside.

Take the mashed potatoes and add the green chilli paste, the juice of the lemon, the coriander leaves, the mustard seeds and salt. Mix well and shape the mixture into small palm-sized balls. Keep aside.

Boil the spinach and then place it in a blender to create a thick pulpy juice.

Add the spinach juice to the whole wheat flour to create a greenish dough. Knead well and divide the dough into small portions. Sprinkle a little rice flour on the dough portions to ensure that they do not break when you start rolling them. Now roll this dough into small mini chapattis, around 4 inches or so in diameter.

Method:

Take one of the mini chapattis and place the potato mixture (ball) in the centre. Fold the edges of the chapatti in to cover the potato mixture. You have now created what looks like a small Tikki. Apply a dab of Mustard Oil to the top and bottom of the Tikki and keep aside. Prepare the rest of the Tikkis in the same way.

Heat the Mustard Oil in a frying pan or a Tava. Carefully shallow-fry each Tikki, ensuring that it doesn’t break or open up while frying.

Arrange the Potato-Spinach Tikkis on a serving dish and serve hot.

Pungency is the Gold Standard

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The very essence of Mustard Oil is encapsulated in its pungency. It is the hallmark of good Mustard Oil. It is Mustard Oil’s defining characteristic. Pungency is what sets Mustard Oil apart from other cooking oils.

However, there is a disturbing trend that one is witnessing of late. Certain marketers are offering what they call “low-pungency mustard oil”, making it sound like the aspect of low pungency represents some kind of health benefit. The claim is patently false. The truth is pungency as a property is the touchstone for many of the health benefits that Mustard Oil has to offer – in particular, its unique ability to protect the body against infections, to detoxify the body, to enhance the efficient functioning of the gastrointestinal system and to prevent (and even treat) certain cancers like colon and colorectal cancer.

You see, the pungent principle in Mustard Oil is activated by an enzyme called myronsinase. Mustard also contains a glucosinolate called sinigrin. When mustard seeds are cold pressed, the myronsinase combines with sinigrin to produce allyl isothiocyanate (AITC). It is AITC that gives Mustard Oil its typical pungency. It also delivers the powerful protective and cancer-fighting properties that we discussed earlier. So now you know – no pungency means no health benefits.

Some time ago, the Business Standard carried a well-researched piece highlighting this aspect. If you missed it, you can read it right here:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/pungency-is-the-key-in-mustard-oil-tasting-notes-118101000292_1.html

So when it comes to choosing a brand of Mustard Oil that delivers comprehensive health benefits, remember: Pungency is the Gold Standard.

Mustard-Flavoured Rice

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Here’s a simple, charming, rustic recipe straight from the villages of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa – the staple diet of everyday people brought alive by Mustard Oil. Rural folk don’t have exotic dishes but they certainly know how to make the best of what they’ve got.

The ingredients that you will need for this recipe are:

  • Rice: 500 grams
  • Mustard Oil: 250 millilitres
  • Onions: 5, large
  • Green Chillies: 12
  • Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste

This dish is traditionally not made with Basmati and other long-grained varieties; small-grained varieties are best for this recipe.

Preparation:

Wash the rice.

Slice the onions finely.

Take six of the green chillies and chop them finely.

Method:

Heat a little Mustard Oil in a pan. Fry the onion slices till they turn brown. Remove the onion slices from the pan and keep aside.

Put the rice in the pan and fry for around 3 minutes or so. Add half the fried onions and continue frying.

Next, add the remaining fried onions along with the turmeric powder, salt and all the green chillies (both chopped and whole). Pour around 1 litre of water, cover the pan and cook. Occasionally, remove the lid and stir the contents. When all the water gets absorbed and the rice is properly cooked (ideally the grains should be moist and sticky), remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to a serving dish.

Your Mustard-Flavoured Rice is now ready to be served. It can be eaten with a variety of side dishes like vegetables, lentils and curries. It can even be eaten plain… it tastes great!

Indian Mustard Oil in Belgium!

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Rick Stein’s culinary journey through India was used to create a highly popular BBC television series that took Indian cuisines and cooking methods into numerous European homes.

Chris Gielen, a Belgian chef watched the series with great interest and was fascinated by the many ways in which Mustard Oil was used by Indians in various parts of India. He decided to try an experiment in which he would create one of his Belgian recipes with Mustard Oil. The result, he found, was delightful.

He began by roasting a chicken on an exquisite base created using tarragon, garlic and lemons. He then brushed the chicken with Mustard Oil and added some of the oil to the base as well. Next, he set his oven to 200 degrees Centigrade and roasted the chicken for an hour or so. The dish, he says, was amazing. The oil gave the chicken a beautiful golden lustre and a subtle, spicy flavour. It also enhanced the flavour of the tarragon and the garlic. And in spite of being heated for an hour, the oil did not lose any of its aromatic appeal.

This is one of the main advantages that Mustard Oil has over other oils: it has a high smoking point and retains all its nutrients and natural antioxidants even at its smoking point.

Like Chris, numerous European, American and Australian chefs have been using cold-pressed Mustard Oil to recreate their local recipes – with fascinating results!