Grandma was always right. Yes, she may have been quaintly old-fashioned, even outdated in today’s technology-dominated world… but in matters of food, health and ancient home remedies, she was leagues ahead. Come on, admit it – nobody ever came close to matching her culinary brilliance and the infallible efficacy of her home remedies. She was head chef and family doctor rolled into one!
If you grew up in the northern or eastern parts of India, then one of the “magic ingredients” in Grandma’s kitchen was Mustard Oil… in all its rich, golden, silky, aromatic glory. Its fragrance filled the kitchen when she cooked; its golden color imbued the food (especially the gravies) with a rich yellow hue and its delightful pungency hit the taste-buds with a tangy punch.
Today, you can pull those old handwritten recipes out and try to make them come alive once again – but without the help of traditional cold-pressed Mustard Oil, you’ll never be able to recreate that magic. Devika, a Delhi-based housewife, fondly remembers her Dadi’s old tattered-and-torn recipe book. In every recipe, her late grandmother had made it a point to double-underline the words “Mustard Oil”!
Grandma’s generation probably never knew complicated words like cardiovascular disease, cholesterol and hypertension – but Mustard Oil helped keep these problems far away from their lives. Today, medical science is rediscovering the heart-healthy properties of Mustard Oil. The Harvard School of Public Health has a landmark study which reveals that a diet with mustard oil as the main cooking medium can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by over 70 percent.
Like we said right at the beginning: Grandma was always right!
Most brand ambassadors add glamour to the brands they endorse by playing the roles of make-belief heroes and heroines on the silver screen. However, the role becomes several times more memorable when the personality being portrayed is a real-life hero – a larger-than-life global icon.
That’s why P Mark Mustard Oil is so proud of the fact that its brand ambassador, the incomparable Boman Irani, is playing Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi in a soon-to-be-released movie: Jhalki.
Talking about the challenges that the role entails, Boman points out that it is tough playing a living person. Unlike Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Gandhi, playing a living person is tough because real-time comparisons are inevitable. So Boman decided that there was really no point in trying to mimic the person. Instead, he went about capturing the essence of the persona of Kailash Satyarthi.
However, this had its own set of challenges. There are three facets to Kailash Satyarthi: the fearless crusader, the public persona and the private person. Since Boman had no idea of Satyarthi’s private side, he focused on bringing the other two facets to life.
He began by watching videos of Satyarthi’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech and numerous media interviews. These made him realize that Satyarthi had a great sense of humour – a trait shared by Boman. A connection was made – and slowly the role began taking shape.
Now that your curiosity has been whetted, we are sure you are eager to see how Boman essays this role. Well, so are we!
Here’s a short video featuring a conversation with Boman Irani in which he talks about – among other things – his discovery of the delights of food cooked in traditional Indian mustard oil.
Being a quintessential Bombay boy, Boman Irani had never experienced the flavour of Mustard Oil – in spite of being a passionate foodie. This is probably because Mustard Oil is not used in Parsi cooking.
But things changed when Boman entered the acting profession. The shoot locations for many of his films took him to North India. And there, in small eateries and dhabas, he discovered this new, intriguing and unique taste: Mustard Oil!
But we’ll let Boman narrate that story – after all, no one can tell a food-related story like Boman Irani can!
The exciting thing about Indian cooking is that with a handful of traditional spices and a dash of spicy, pungent Mustard Oil, even the simplest vegetables can turn into mouth-watering delicacies. Today we look at a popular potato dish from North India.
The ingredients you will need are:
• Potatoes, cut into cubes: 250 gram
• Mustard Oil: 2 tablespoon
• Turmeric Powder: Quarter teaspoon
• Dried Mango Powder: Half a teaspoon
• Coriander, finely chopped: 2 tablespoon
• Coriander Powder: 1 teaspoon
• Cumin seed powder: 1 teaspoon
• Asafoetida: Quarter teaspoon
• Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder: 1 teaspoon
• Red Chilli Powder: Half a teaspoon
• Traditional Indian Garam Masala: Half a teaspoon
• Salt: to taste
Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan. Add the potato cubes and fry lightly on medium heat for around 6 minutes.
Next, add all the powdered spices (except the Dried Mango Powder); that is, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin seed powder.
Now add the asafoetida, garam masala and salt. Mix thoroughly and continue frying on medium heat for another 6 minutes.
Remove the pan from the flame and add the Dried Mango Powder – mix well. Garnish your dish with the chopped coriander leaves and serve it hot.
In 2015, the Global Burden of Disease report pointed out that Hypertension causes more than 1,600,000 deaths every year in India. This disturbing finding compelled the Indian Council of Medical Research to conduct a study of its own in 2016. The results were as scary; they indicated that 34 percent of the urban population in India suffered from Hypertension – the Silent Killer lurking in our midst.
However, the good news is that in India we already have an ancient, time-tested weapon to fight Hypertension – a weapon known as Mustard Oil. Mustard Oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fats, both of which play a key role in lowering the risk of hypertension and heart disease.
In fact, research indicates that a balanced diet incorporating Mustard Oil, mustard seeds and mustard greens is highly effective in controlling blood pressure and fighting Hypertension. A study in the highly respected medical journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology published by the American Heart Association indicated that mustard-infused treatments (and diets) led to significant reduction in the risk levels pertaining to Hypertension.
The American Heart Association points out that just one tablespoon of Mustard Oil in your daily diet can lower your blood pressure and control cholesterol levels. Mustard Oil is also an integral part of the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Well, the Americans have only just begun to discover the power of Mustard Oil in the battle against Hypertension but we Indians have known about this for centuries. Come on, India – let’s go back to Mustard Oil… and defeat Hypertension!
Mustard Oil, one of India’s staple cooking oils, had a very important role delineated for it in the ancient Indian healing science of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda bases its diagnoses on certain biological energy types known as Dosha. There are three Dosha – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The combination of these Dosha determines the kind of person you are – physically, mentally and even spiritually.
In Ayurveda, Mustard Oil is used to increase Pitta and to pacify Kapha and Vata.
Pitta governs the “heating principle”. Mustard Oil has the power to enhance metabolism; improve the functioning of the digestive system; develop a lustrous skin tone; and ensure healthy blood, blood vessels and circulation.
By pacifying Kapha, Mustard Oil ensures the avoidance of joint pains; digestive problems; a tendency to put on weight; lethargy; and frequent coughs and colds.
Mustard Oil also pacifies Vata, thereby avoiding irritable gut syndrome; constipation; sluggish blood circulation; dry skin; and chronic fatigue syndrome.
This doesn’t mean that you always need to take Mustard Oil in the form of Ayurvedic medicines and formulations. An easier – and more delectable – way would be to make Mustard Oil a regular part of your daily diet. Make it your primary cooking medium – and live a healthier life.
Chef Ken Oringer had never thought of trying Mustard Oil as an ingredient for any of his recipes till the well-known actor and food writer Madhur Jaffrey visited his restaurant in Boston. He worked with Jaffrey on a few recipes and found – to his delight – that no single ingredient could add as much flavour to a dish as mustard oil. And he soon discovered that many of his American customers too loved the unique taste of this typically Indian cooking oil.
Another American chef, Michael Hodgkins, uses Mustard Oil as his preferred seasoning for everything from salad dressings to fried items. It’s his favourite ingredient even when he’s not making Asian dishes. “It doesn’t coat your mouth”, he says; “You taste it – and then it’s gone!”
Chef Alex Raij has something to say about the heating sensation that mustard oil typically creates. She points out that mustard oil has a delectable heat that does not linger; it’s a flavour that hits the tongue differently and creates a completely different culinary experience.
Laurence Edelman is another American chef who fell in love with Mustard Oil’s “silky heat”. When he discovered this enticing ingredient from exotic India, he initially used it sparingly. But now he uses it quite liberally. He says: “Mustard oil has a clang – once you get a taste of it, all of a sudden everything is lacking mustard oil.”
The very idea of American chefs using mustard oil is strange because in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of mustard oil as a foodstuff. The packs must be labelled ‘For External Use Only’. There is no basis for this. In fact, scientists at the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health say that there is absolutely no evidence of mustard oil being harmful for human beings.
Here’s a funny twist in the tale: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, another American chef, says that he specifically looks for the ‘External Use Only’ label when he goes shopping for Mustard Oil. He says it signals that it’s the “real stuff”.