Memories of the Rasoi

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In one of his free-wheeling talks, well-known author William Dalrymple remembers meeting an octogenarian lady from pre-Partition Punjab; she reminisces about the good old days when the Rasoi (kitchen) was a large sprawling outhouse – and she was the queen of that domain. She remembers working and chattering happily there for hours alongside the other womenfolk; she remembers the large earthen oven heated by firewood; the large copper utensils and clay pots; and – in particular – she remembers the aroma of Mustard Oil wafting through the kitchen.

Back in those days no kitchen was complete without jars and jars of Mustard Oil stacked along one of the walls of the kitchen. The oil was used for everything from cooking, marinating and pickling to body massage, hair care and home remedies.

One of the lady’s most vivid memories were of the Mustard Oil being poured into the Kadhai (a large metal wok). As the thick golden-yellow liquid cascaded into the Kadhai, a mouth-watering aroma would fill the kitchen. A little later, when the oil reached its smoking point clouds of white smoke would rise up from the Kadhai and waft through the kitchen. The aroma of this smoke would drift across the courtyard and – seduced by its fragrance – some of the men would peep into the kitchen to get a preview of the delicacies being cooked.

As a child – she recalls – her eyes would burn because of the pungency of this smoke. She would often run away from the kitchen. Her grandmother would chide her and say: “Silly girl! This is the sign that our Mustard Oil is pure and full-bodied.”

Looking back now – against the backdrop of current research and scientific knowledge – we know that her grandmother was right… as grandmothers always tend to be!

High-Speed Fish!

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Across large swathes of Bengal, Odisha and Assam, people in rural areas had no refrigerators for decades; even if they did, it would be of no use since there was no electricity. Even today, because of widespread rural poverty, there are very few refrigerators in villages; this means cooked food cannot be stored for consumption at a later point in time.

For this reason, the fish that these rural folks caught every day would have to be cooked and eaten almost immediately. This gave rise to some supersonic recipes that are very useful in our present-day on-the-run lives. Here’s an exciting fish recipe that can be prepared in minutes.

The ingredients that you will require are:

Ingredients:

  • Fish (Hilsa): 500 gram
  • Mustard Oil: 4 tablespoon
  • Mustard Seeds (Rai): 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Green Chillies: 6
  • Salt: to taste

It’s a simple set of common everyday ingredients found in every rural household. When you have to cook in a hurry, there’s no time to go shopping!

Preparation:

Wash and cut the fish into pieces. Smear each piece with turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside.

Coarsely grind the mustard seeds and two of the green chillies into a paste. Add a pinch of salt and mix it into the paste. Keep aside.

Vertically slit the remaining four green chillies and keep aside.

Method:

In a pan heat around 200 millilitres of water on a Medium flame and bring the water to a boil. Then add the fish pieces along with the mustard-green chilli paste. Some housewives prefer to coat the fish pieces in the mustard-green chilli paste – but that is not necessary because it doesn’t affect the taste of the dish.

Cover the pan and continue cooking till the water evaporates.

Next, add the Mustard Oil and the slit green chillies. Give it a stir, turn the flame off – and it’s done! Don’t miss this interesting fact: in this recipe, Mustard Oil is not used as a cooking medium. Instead it is added to enhance the taste of the dish.

In Bengal, Odisha and Assam, this dish is usually eaten with steaming hot rice. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s delicious!

What Does Your Cooking Oil Do?

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The function of your cooking oil is to cook your food. That’s why it is often referred to as a “cooking medium”. It is the medium that absorbs heat and slowly cooks your food. But is that all it does?

Well, if your cooking oil is Mustard Oil, the answer is “No!” Mustard Oil does a whole lot more than just cooking your food.

For starters, Mustard Oil is an extremely healthy ingredient that offers a mind-boggling array of benefits. It is proven to significantly reduce the risks associated with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and cancer. Mustard Oil also has some really unique attributes: it has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. These give Mustard Oil the power to fight infections in all parts of the body, and also to act as an effective pain reliever.

There’s more – Mustard Oil has a very positive effect on blood lipids. It boosts good cholesterol (HDL) and reduces bad cholesterol (LDL). In the process, it rectifies the body’s Triglyceride balance.

Moving on, Mustard Oil has excellent preservative properties. That’s why it is widely used in making pickles. Moreover, the antibacterial and antifungal properties we mentioned earlier prevent mould from forming on the vegetables and fruits being pickled.

Mustard Oil is also a very popular taste agent. Certain dishes like Bengali curries, Wazwan cuisine and Punjabi food derive their characteristic flavours from the Mustard Oil they are cooked in.

So ask yourself: Can my cooking oil do all this? Only Mustard Oil users can reply with a resounding “Yes!”

Fried Eggs – with a Touch of Fusion

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This blog has often written about the fascinating crossover cuisine created during the days of India’s colonial past. Indian chefs cooked up British and European recipes, adding a subtle Indian touch by replacing ingredients that were not available in India. Today’s recipe is another one from the days of the Raj: Fried Eggs and Spinach… Indian style.

Let’s gather the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Eggs: 4
  • Mustard Oil: 3 tablespoon
  • Mustard Seeds (Rai): 1 teaspoon
  • Spinach (Saag): 250 gram
  • Cheese: 30 gram
  • Cumin (Jeera) Seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Yogurt (Dahi): 60 gram
  • Salt: to taste

If you also like pepper on your fried eggs, you can add it to the final dish – your choice.

Preparation:

Wash and finely chop the spinach.

Grate the cheese.

Method:

Heat one tablespoon of Mustard Oil in a pan on Medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and sauté till the seeds begin to splutter. Remove the mustard seeds from the oil and keep aside.

Add the remaining Mustard Oil to the pan. Break and fry the eggs, one by one. When the white settles perfectly and the yolk is just a little soft, carefully remove the fried egg from the oil and keep aside. It’s a good idea to keep the four fried eggs on a hotplate to keep them warm while you cook the spinach and get the yogurt ready.

Next, add the spinach to the frying pan and cook for around 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cumin seeds along with the sautéed mustard seeds. Continue cooking for around 2 minutes or so. Add salt to taste. Mix well. Turn the flame off.

Pour the grated cheese into the pan and stir it into the spinach.

Next, pour the yogurt into a bowl. Add a little salt and mix well.

Now it’s time to get your Indo-British Fried Eggs and Spinach ready for serving. Place each fried egg on a serving plate. Add a topping of spinach and yogurt – and it’s done. Enjoy!

Boman Irani – Multiple Split Personalities!

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As a versatile character actor, Boman Irani is able to create and enact a wide variety of personas with incredible ease. If one compares the boisterous Lucky Singh (Lage Raho Munna Bhai) and the sneering Professor Viru Sahastrabudhhe (3 Idiots) with the villainous Vardaan (Don 2) and the scheming Kishan Khurana (Khosla Ka Ghosla), it is almost unbelievable that the man behind these diverse faces and personalities is the same!

As the brand ambassador for P Mark Mustard Oil, Boman has – in the past – created many new faces for the brand. A few years ago, he transformed himself into a Tabla Ustad by changing his hairdo, his demeanour and his mannerisms. He even took Tabla lessons as part of his preparation!

In the new campaign for the brand, this time around Boman created three different personas – with hilarious results. There’s a jumpy, overexcited boxing coach who unwittingly turns his boxer into a punching bag. There’s an overconfident and utterly incompetent translator who thinks he knows it all. And there’s a smug and flamboyant chef who doesn’t really know his craft. The campaign uses humour to drive home its main message: Only a Specialist can do the work of a Specialist; so when it comes to buying Mustard Oil… trust only ‘The Mustard Specialist’.

These delightful ads are also available online, uploaded on the brand’s YouTube channel; check them out right here:

A Recipe for Hungry Wives

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There was a practice in Bengal during the early nineteen-hundreds (and was also prevalent in the eastern parts of India) wherein a wife would never eat before her husband and till the other male members of the household had eaten. The wife would usually have the food that was left over after the men had finished. Sadly, there were times when the men had gobbled up all the food – leaving nothing for the wives.

These hungry (and justifiably irritated) wives came up with a dish which they could whip up quickly – one that didn’t require a whole lot of ingredients. The dish was colloquially known as Bahu Khuda. Bahu means ‘wife’ and Khuda means ‘hunger’. These women were accomplished cooks in their own right – so they didn’t compromise on taste. And do you know what the main taste agent was in their “fast food” recipe? It was Mustard Oil!

Over the years, there have been many variations of Bahu Khuda across regions and generations. One of the best known recipes was shared by Basanti Devi, wife of the famous freedom fighter, Chittaranjan Das. She actively participated in the Non Cooperation Movement in 1921. During those times they had to host and feed many freedom fighters who sought refuge in the couple’s ancestral home in Calcutta. Naturally, Bahu Khuda was the easiest and quickest way to give them a wholesome and filling meal.

So let’s prepare the famous, ever-popular Bahu Khuda. The ingredients that you will require are:

Ingredients:

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

In Bengal, Bahu Khuda was not made with Basmati. Usually, a small grained variety of rice known as Gobindo Bhog was used.

Preparation:

Wash the rice, drain off the excess water and keep the rice aside.

Wash, peel and slice the onions.

Take 6 of the green chillies and finely chop them.

Method:

Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan on Medium heat till the oil reaches its smoking point. Add the onion slices and fry for a minute or so. Remove the onion slices from the pan and divide them into two halves. Keep aside.

Add the rice to the pan and fry for around three minutes. Add half the onion slices that you fried earlier. Continue frying for another minute or so.

Now add the rest of the fried onions along with the sliced green chillies, the whole green chillies, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well.

Next, add 1 litre of water, cover the pan and let the contents cook. At regular intervals, remove the cover and stir the contents.

When all the water is absorbed, take a few grains of rice on a teaspoon and check to ensure that the rice has been cooked properly.

Your traditional Bengali-style Bahu Khuda is now ready to be served. Serve it hot. It’s so delicious, it can be eaten plain without any accompaniments – and you don’t have to be a hungry wife to enjoy it!

Boman Irani – A blend of Creativity and Energy

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If you have seen the latest television advertising campaign for P Mark Mustard Oil, you would have noticed that the ad appears to be shot at three different locations: a boxing ring; a conference room; and a modular kitchen. Boman Irani plays three different personalities with radically different personalities: an over-excited out-of-control boxing coach; an overconfident translator who doesn’t know his craft at all; and a smug chef who bungles his way through a demo film.

You can watch the films online right here:

 

 

Now here’s an interesting sidelight. All three films were shot on the same day. That’s right! The locations are actually elaborately constructed sets and all the films were shot one after another – with only an intervening lunch break. This is a demonstration of Boman Irani’s amazing energy levels. The ads featuring the boxing coach and the chef comprise pure physical comedy – requiring a significant amount of exertion.

What’s more, it wasn’t just the ad films that were being shot. In between shots, Boman was also doing a series of in-camera messages and posing for still photography shots. On and on and on – no breaks!

And yet, all this pretty extreme exertion did not detract in the least from the delightful creativity that Boman brings to each character. The loud, boisterous and hyper boxing coach bouncing around the ring; the incompetent chef speeding through one disaster after another; the bungling translator blithely ruining an important business meeting; every role is a memorable peek into the sheer versatility of this awesome character actor.

That’s why Boman Irani is a perfect brand ambassador for P Mark Mustard Oil. He’s a perfect blend of creativity and energy… just as the brand represents a perfect blend of purity and quality. Now that’s a well-balanced relationship!