One of our earlier posts took us to Bengal as we explored a creative potato dish brought alive by the zing and aroma of Mustard Oil. Today we move westward into the neighbouring state of Bihar where folks are just as creative in their use of Mustard Oil. This is a traditional Bihari dish called Chokha.
First let’s get the ingredients in place:
• Potatoes: 4, medium sized
• Onions: 2, finely chopped
• Mustard Oil: 1 tablespoon
• Red Chilli Powder: half a teaspoon
• Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 2 small bunches, finely chopped
• Green Chilli: 2, finely chopped
• Salt: to taste
Boil the potatoes (use a pressure cooker to complete this bit quickly) till they become soft; use a fork to check that the potatoes are done. Next, peel the potatoes and mash them in a mixing bowl. Keep aside.
Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan with the flame set on Medium. Add the onions and sauté till the onions take on a golden-brown texture. Next add the green chilies and continue to sauté.
Add the mashed potatoes, red chili powder and salt. Stir thoroughly to ensure that the potato mash mixes well with the onions and spices. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes and then remove from the flame.
Place the mixture in a serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves.
Your delightful dish from Bihar is now ready. Eat it with puris or as a side dish with rice.
Indian cuisine is hugely popular all over the world – and for those who want authentic Indian food, the ingredients need to be authentic too. Almost every supermarket in Europe, the USA and other countries has an Indian section stocked with spices, condiments, herbs and, of course, Mustard Oil.
However, many Indian food lovers and chefs in America are surprised to find that the Mustard Oil bottles are marked “For External Use Only”. That’s because the Food and Drug Administration of the US Government has banned the use of Mustard Oil as a foodstuff. This naturally raises some concerns (among Americans) as to its safety and suitability for health and nutrition.
There is no need for any confusion. Any perception of Mustard Oil being unsafe or unhealthy is a myth – and do you know who supports this strongly? American scientists! Yes, the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, says that there is absolutely no evidence of mustard oil being harmful for human beings.
In the past decade or so, a lot of scientific and medical research has shown that Mustard Oil has some truly unique health benefits, especially for the heart and other cardiovascular organs. This has altered the opinions of many Americans with regard to Mustard Oil.
When Indian chef Manish Tyagi travelled to the US and started working in San Francisco he was delighted to discover that authentic Indian Mustard Oil was easily available in the Bay Area. And many of his new American friends told him that they loved Indian food, especially the flavour and aroma of Indian Mustard Oil; and they had no apprehensions whatsoever about its safety.
So that’s another American myth that stands busted!
As the summer heat begins to set in, many people start wondering whether it’s a good idea to use a hot oil like Mustard Oil in summer. Will it heat up my system? Will it make me uncomfortable? Is it healthy to continue using Mustard Oil in the Indian summer? These are some of the “hot” questions that we will answer in this post.
For starters, it’s a misconception that Mustard Oil has a heating effect on the human body. Yes, it is a hot oil. Its heating action makes it ideal for enhancing the efficacy of key ingredients in home remedies and Ayurvedic formulations. This heating action also enhances the flavours of certain spices and ingredients in the dishes that you cook. But it doesn’t make you feel hot – or hotter, in summer.
In fact, summer is a season when you should be consuming more Mustard Oil. It’s a season of digestive problems and constipation. Mustard Oil stimulates the secretion of gastric juices and bile, and in the process, it tones up your digestive system. Mustard Oil also improves the peristaltic movement of your intestines and, therefore, prevents constipation.
Summer is also a time of bothersome illnesses and ailments. With its powerful antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, Mustard Oil is your ally for fighting infections in summer. You can keep your gastrointestinal tract and other organs of your body infection-free all through the summer months.
Furthermore, many parts of India have a moist summer, with high levels of humidity. This leads to dust and grime accumulating on the skin. Mustard Oil helps to open up the pores of the skin and flush out toxins – thereby cleansing your system.
More importantly, Mustard Oil is proven to be an ideal oil for keeping your heart healthy. You can’t stop taking care of your heart, only because of the summer heat, can you?
The connection between edible oil and heart disease is now a proven fact. There are oils that are filled with bad fats (saturated fatty acids) and these can cause plaque to build up on the inner walls of blood vessels, significantly elevating the risks of heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure and stroke. In their attempts to muddy the waters and confuse consumers, many unscrupulous brands falsely claim to be heart-friendly. And sadly, some consumers do get confused and fall into the trap.
The only cooking oil that is able to present comprehensive scientific evidence to prove its heart-friendliness is Mustard Oil. A landmark study was conducted jointly by the Harvard School of Medicine, Boston; the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; and St. John’s Hospital, Bangalore. The report, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the use of cold-pressed Mustard Oil as the primary cooking medium could reduce the risks associated with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) by more than 70 percent.
There are other studies indicating ancillary benefits – like Mustard Oil’s ability to prevent plaque from sticking to the walls of blood vessels, and Mustard Oil’s attribute of enhancing the body’s ability to repair damaged myelin sheaths – the outer covering of blood vessels.
These studies changed the attitudes of many doctors, cardiologists and nutritionists who began advocating the use of Mustard Oil on the basis of the findings. Eminent cardiologist Dr. S. C. Manchanda is one such proponent of Mustard Oil. In fact, even before the Harvard School of Medicine study was published, Dr. Manchanda had been asking his patients to switch to Mustard Oil as the sole cooking medium.
So if you are conscious about heart-health (and you should certainly be in these times when Coronary Vascular Disease is a major killer), there is almost no doubt about which edible oil you should be using. It’s Mustard Oil… cold-pressed Mustard Oil… scientifically proven to be good for the heart.
Traditional Bengali cuisine uses Mustard Oil not just as a cooking medium but also as a taste agent. The recipe in today’s post uses Mustard Oil to create a unique flavour – along with Poppy Seeds (called Posto in Bengal). This dish is known as Aloo Posto (Potatoes with Poppy Seeds).
The ingredients that you will need for making this dish are:
- Potatoes: 1 Kg, small (baby potatoes), peeled
- Poppy Seeds (Posto): 50 gram
- Mustard Oil: 2 tablespoon
- Nigella Seeds (Kalonji): 1 teaspoon
- Sugar: Half a teaspoon
- Green Chilli: 2, slit along their length
- Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: Half a teaspoon
- Salt: to taste
Take a bowl of hot water and soak the poppy seeds for at least two hours. After two hours, place the poppy seeds in a blender along with 4 or 5 tablespoons of the water (used for soaking) and grind to a paste. Keep aside.
Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan with the flame set on Medium. Add the Nigella Seeds and Green Chilies and saute for 10 seconds or so. Then add the potatoes and continue frying, stirring the potatoes to mix them well with the Nigella Seeds and the Mustard Oil. Fry for around 5 minutes and then add the Turmeric Powder. Stir well to mix in the turmeric.
Place a lid on the pan and let the mixture cook for around 5 minutes. Now remove the lid and add the Poppy Seeds and stir thoroughly, ensuring that all the potatoes get a coating of poppy seed paste.
Next, add around 150 ml of water and the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and then put the lid back on the pan. Let the contents simmer for around 15 minutes. Intermittently, remove the lid, give the contents a good stir and replace the lid.
Finally, add the sugar and let the mixture simmer for another two to three minutes. The poppy seed paste should form a thick creamy gravy. If it becomes too dry, you can add some more water.
Your Bengali style Aloo Posto is now ready. Serve it hot with roti or puri – or as a side dish with steaming hot rice.
Whenever Boman Irani plays any role, one is always struck by the dimensions he adds to the character – the subtle nuances, quirks, body language, movements, facial expressions, gestures and lots more. How does he do it? Where do these ideas come from? The answer is that they come from weeks of painstaking advance preparation. The secret of Boman’s uniqueness lies in his ability to take a completely fictitious character and build a distinctive persona from scratch.
Such advance preparation sometimes entails crazy stuff – like learning to write with both hands in order to play the role of Professor (Virus) Sahasrabuddhe in 3 Idiots. Or like learning Scuba diving at his age for an underwater scene in Happy New Year. Or like starving himself down to skin-and-bones for essaying the role of Mahatma Gandhi in a play. Boman has done it all – and with aplomb.
He even went as far as to learn stunt driving for a car chase scene in Don: The Chase Begins. For Boman, creating a character is not just about reading a script and imagining a new character… it’s about actually doing the things the character would do – and doing it with conviction. That’s why the preparation is so important.
At P Mark Mustard Oil, we know this facet of Boman Irani all too well. As our Brand Ambassador, Boman was playing a Tabla Ustad – a quirky, comedic role – in one of our ad films. He actually took a series of Tabla lessons as his preparation for the role. In this short video clip shot in Boman’s vanity van during the making of the film, he talks about his preparation for this role.
Back in the good old days, identifying good quality Mustard Oil was easy. You would take a little of the oil (just a drop was enough) and you would gently rub it into the palm of your hand – and smell it. The pungent zing in your nose would tell you that it was pure Mustard Oil. Even today, some people of the older generation continue to use this method.
But there’s a problem nowadays. Unscrupulous brands are using chemical and heating based oil extraction methods. This kills the nutrients – and the pungent aroma too. So here’s what such manufacturers do – they add artificial pungency! And to make matters worse, artificial pungency is another chemical.
So what can one do against such blatant misuse of Science? Very little, sadly; although the trained nose can detect artificial pungency, many consumers still fall prey to brands claiming to be cold-pressed (Kachchi Ghani) but are actually not so.
The only way out would be to trust brands that have stood the test of time and are known for their quality across decades. P Mark Mustard Oil is proud to be one such brand – delivering consistent quality and purity that consumers have trusted across generations… all the way since 1933.