Acquiring a Taste for Mustard Oil

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There is no doubt about the fact that Mustard Oil is an acquired taste. For people who have traditionally used coconut oil and til (sesame) oil, mustard oil may take some getting used to because of its typical pungency and aroma. And yet, Mustard Oil is an enriching experience… a unique flavour… and a gastronomic delight that every food lover should definitely get a taste of.

There’s another angle to keep in mind as well. Mustard Oil is extremely healthy. It’s proven to be great for cardiovascular health. It’s good for your blood pressure. It reduces bad cholesterol and improves good cholesterol. It cleanses and detoxifies. It prevents illnesses caused by bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms. In short, it’s too good to avoid.

So how does one acquire the “Mustard Taste”? Well, for starters, don’t switch to Mustard Oil as a cooking medium right away. Instead, use it as a delicious gravy (Tadka); if you are non-vegetarian, use it as a marinade; or drizzle it lightly on a salad to add a lip-smacking zing that your regular cooking oil doesn’t give you. Work it gradually into your diet.

Most people who have tried this slow and steady transition to Mustard Oil have no regrets. Like we said: if you are a food lover, the Mustard Experience is not one that you should miss.

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Aubergines with Garlic and Mustard Oil

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This a delicacy that is ideal for lunch on a cold winter’s day – a quick, hassle-free preparation of aubergines infused with the delightful favours of garlic and Mustard Oil. When you have a large number of guests in the house, this is a dish that you can serve up quickly and in large quantities. The ingredients are simple and actual the preparation and cooking doesn’t take too much time.

The ingredients that you will need are:

  • Aubergines (Baingan): 2
  • Mustard Oil: 2 tablespoon
  • Garlic (Lasan): 100 grams
  • Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste

Preparation:

Cut the aubergines into thick slices. Sprinkle with turmeric powder and salt; keep aside.

Chop the garlic coarsely.

Method:

Heat a little Mustard Oil in a pan. Add the chopped garlic and fry till it turns crisp and dark brown. Remove from the oil and place it on a paper napkin to soak up the excess oil.

Heat the remaining Mustard Oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine slices one at a time. Fry till the aubergine slices turn into a rich golden brown colour.

Place the aubergine slices on a serving platter and carefully put a topping of fried garlic on each slice. Your dish in now ready – serve it hot. This is usually eaten as a side dish, but it can also be eaten with rice or roti. Either way – it’s delightful!

Hair Care for the Cold Winter Months

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Winter is a season that makes hair care rather difficult. The scalp turns dry and it itches, causing additional discomfiture. This is also a time when dandruff problems get aggravated.

Here’s an ancient Ayurvedic home remedy that you can use for natural hair care during the winter months – or throughout the year if you want to.

In a pan mix cold-pressed Mustard Oil and cold-pressed coconut oil in a ratio of 2:1. Choose a quantity that suits your needs – but make enough only for one application at a time. Mix well so that the two oils blend to form a smooth thick substance. Heat the mixture gently till it becomes warm (not hot).

Use your hands and fingertips to massage this mixture gently into your hair, making sure you coat the strands from root to tip. In particular, ensure that the mixture reaches the scalp, so that it can moisturize and nourish the scalp and the base of hair.

Next, moisten a towel with hot water (or hot steam) and place it over your head, folding it into a cap-like covering. Keep the towel on for around 15 to 20 minutes, allowing the mixture to penetrate the pores of your scalp and nourish the epidermis and the base of the hair shafts.

When used regularly, this treatment can give you rich lustrous hair and a healthy scalp that keeps dandruff away all through the cold, dry winter months.

The Eternal Favourite: Potatoes and Mustard Oil

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All over India, different regions have varied recipes for a dish popularly known as Dam Alu. The Kashmiri chefs have a version that is radically different from the recipe evolved by Avadhi chefs. Today we look at a version of Dam Alu that comes from Bengal.

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  • Potatoes: 500 grams
  • Mustard Oil: 2 tablespoon
  • Sesame (Til) Seeds: 100 grams
  • Paanch Phoran: 1 teaspoon
  • Juice of Lemon (Nimbu): 2 lemons
  • Dry Red Chillies: 2
  • Green Chillies: 4
  • Salt: to taste

Paanch Phoran is a mixture of five spices that forms a staple for recipes in the eastern part of India. The five spices are: Fenugreek seeds (Methi), Nigella seeds (Kalonji), Cumin seeds (Jeera), Mustard seeds (Sarson) and Fennel seeds (Saunf).

Preparation:

Boil the potatoes and then peel them. Cut each potato into four parts. This dish is traditionally made with small (lemon-sized) potatoes. If you can get these, you don’t have to cut them into pieces.

Lightly roast the sesame seeds in a frying pan. Grind the roasted sesame seeds with green chillies and salt. Use this mixture to coat the potato pieces – then pour in the lemon juice and keep aside.

Method:

Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan. Add the red chillies and the Paanch Phoran and sauté lightly, making sure that the spices don’t get burnt. A good indicator is your nose: when the rich aroma of the Paanch Phoran wafts to your nostrils, remove the pan from the flame.

Now pour the Mustard Oil and spices gravy over the potatoes. Cover with a lid and let it cool. This is a dish that is served only when it has cooled down.

You can serve it as a snack or as a side dish. And as any Bengali food lover will tell you – it vanishes very quickly!

Why Chefs are Ecstatic about Mustard Oil

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An oil is… well, just an oil – but not when it comes to Mustard Oil. Mustard Oil is a lot more than a cooking oil, extremely versatile and varied in its applications. That’s why chefs are usually extremely enthusiastic when they talk about Mustard Oil.

Chef Arun Sundararaj, Executive Chef at the Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, believes that while mustard may be an acquired taste, it is definitely a unique flavour. “I believe that there is no ingredient that comes close to it”, he affirms adding “it brings tremendous flavours to any dish.” The gourmet specialities at the TajMahal Hotel include Bhatti Murgh and Mustard Prawns, both of which need cold-pressed mustard oil to make their flavours come alive.

Chef Sonu Koithara points out that certain traditional dishes like Bengali and Punjabi recipes cannot be prepared, in their authentic form, without Mustard Oil. “Bengali dishes like Shorshe Bata Ilish and Chingri Bhapa cannot do without the generous use of mustard oil”, he points out emphatically.

Chef Abbas Bhat, an expert in Kashmiri Wazwan cuisine agrees wholeheartedly. He believes that one cannot possibly cook authentic Wazwan food without using mustard oil. According to him, mustard oil is the essence of this culinary style and is used not just as a cooking oil but also as a tadka (gravy) and a marinade.

As you can see, all across the culinary profession, Mustard Oil has some serious fan following!

Mushrooms and Mustard!

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Today’s recipe is a rather offbeat one – a delightful snack that combines mushrooms, spices and mustard oil to create a memorable and unusual snack.

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  • Button Mushrooms: 1 kilogram
  • Mustard Oil: 100 millilitres
  • Hung Yogurt: 200 grams
  • Cream Cheese: 200 grams
  • Cream: 50 millilitres
  • Nuts (Peanuts or Cashew nuts): 200 grams
  • Roasted Gram Flour: 1 teaspoon
  • Red Chilli Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste

Preparation:

Remove the stems of the button mushrooms and soak the mushroom caps in hot water for around 10 minutes. Then rinse the caps and place them on paper napkins arranged on a tray and let them dry.

Grind the nuts into a coarse powder. This next part is a bit time-consuming. Take each mushroom cap and fill it with the crushed nuts. Keep aside.

Method:

In a mixing bowl, mix the Mustard Oil, hung yogurt, cream, gram flour, red chilli powder, garam masala and salt.

Apply this mixture on each of the stuffed mushroom caps, carefully coating each cap thoroughly. Keep aside for an hour or so.

Turn the oven on and preheat to 180o C. On the oven tray, arrange the stuffed and coated mushroom caps. Add a topping of cream cheese on each cap.

Bake the mushrooms for around five minutes or so – and your delicious snack is ready. Serve hot. It’s the perfect accompaniment for your chai on a chilly winter’s day.

A Power Potion for Winter

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Winter – the season for colds, coughs, congestion and sniffles – is here, but there’s no need to surrender helplessly to these irritants. Here’s a way to create your own “Power Potion” to protect yourself and your family from the typical ailments that winter brings in its wake.

For this ancient tried and tested home remedy, you will require cold-pressed Mustard Oil, garlic pods and carom (Ajwain) seeds. Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan. When the oil reaches its smoking point add the garlic pods and carom seeds. Continue heating till the garlic pods turn dark brown and the carom seeds turn blackish.

Turn the flame off and let the Mustard Oil cool down to room temperature. Strain the oil and keep it in a jar. To keep colds, coughs and congestion at bay, massage your chest, throat and the soles of your feet with this oil every day. It is also perfect for children since it is 100 percent natural – this oil has no chemicals and no pharmaceutical ingredients that may cause unpleasant side-effects. So safe!

And if you find the winter sniffles catching up with you, just apply a little of this oil around your nostrils. It’s really effective!

So as winter sets in get your “Power Potion” ready for the chilly battle that lies ahead.