Mushrooms and Mustard

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Winter is a time when steaming hot snacks are always welcome… and if you’ve had your fill of Pakoras and Samosas, here’s something completely different: Mushrooms and Mustard! In this recipe, the definitive flavour of Mustard Oil mingles with the taste of garlic to create a unique mouth-watering experience.

The ingredients for this recipe are short and simple:

  • Small Button Mushrooms: 300 grams
  • Garlic: 1 clove
  • Mustard Oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Lemon Juice: 2 teaspoon
  • Tomato Puree: 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar: Just a pinch
  • Salt: to taste

Preparation:

Peel and crush the garlic.

Method:

Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan. Add the crushed garlic and let it fry for half a minute or so.

Add the mushrooms, lemon juice, tomato puree, sugar and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cover the pan and let the ingredients cook for three minutes on a medium flame. Occasionally, remove the lid and give the contents a stir. Use a fork to check that the mushrooms are done.

Your Mushrooms and Mustard snack is now ready. Serve with cocktail toothpicks or with dinner rolls. This recipe is for a quantity to serve two persons; increase the ingredients if you have more guests dropping by.

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Easing the ‘Ouch!’ Factor

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Winter is a time when aches and pains tend to intensify, especially in older persons. The cold weather affects the joints, making them stiff and painful. Instead of reaching for chemical-laden ointments, you can make your very own natural pain balm at home… just like grandma did decades ago when prescription medicines weren’t flying off the shelves at the speed at which they do today.

Grandma knew all about the pain-relieving properties of natural, cold-pressed Mustard Oil. She may not have understood the chemistry of mustard oil – in terms of its powerful anti-inflammatory attributes, but she knew it to be a vanquisher of bodily pain. So here’s what she did.

She took two tablespoons of Mustard Seeds and one tablespoon of cold-pressed Mustard Oil. Next, she would grind the mustard seeds into a coarse powder. She would add a little warm water (not too hot, just warm) and form a thick paste. To this paste she would add the mustard oil and mix thoroughly. Grandma’s pain balm was now ready for use.

The natural heating property of Mustard Oil opens the skin’s pores and allows the balm to penetrate deep inside the skin where the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties begin soothing the pain.

You can make this at home and apply it on stiff joints, aching muscles or other areas that are painful – like your neck after a long stint at your workstation or on sporting injuries that you may sustain at the gym or on the playground. It’s a multipurpose pain balm – easy to make and highly effective.

So remember – Grandma’s remedies have always worked… and now you too can continue the tradition.

Tomato Sauce with an Added Zing

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Tomato sauce is one of the most popular sauces in the world – and whether you’re having French Fries in America or Pakoras in India, tomato sauce is a must. Long before it was available in fancy bottles our grandmothers and mothers would make it at home. In today’s post, we are going to take a look at a time-tested recipe for making a fresh batch of tomato sauce at home – with an added zing: Mustard Oil.

The ingredients that you will need are:

  • Tomatoes, chopped: 400 grams
  • Onion: 1, medium sized
  • Mustard Oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic: 2 cloves
  • Red Wine Vinegar: 1 tablespoon (you can also use regular vinegar)
  • Brown Sugar: 1 tablespoon
  • Tomato Puree: 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper: Just a pinch
  • Salt: to taste

Preparation:

Peel and finely chop the onion.

Peel and crush the garlic into a paste.

Method:

Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan and add the onion slices. Cook till the onion slices become soft.

Add the crushed garlic along with the red wine vinegar, sugar, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes. Mix thoroughly. Cover the pan with a lid and keep cooking till the mixture comes to a boil. At regular intervals, remove the lid and stir the contents. Add the salt and pepper during this process.

Your homemade Tomato Sauce with Mustard Oil is ready. If you want to make it smooth like the sauce you get out of bottles, cool the sauce and puree it once in your mixer-blender.

It’s a great idea to cook up a fresh batch every time. This recipe gives you around 400 millilitres of Tomato Sauce. Adjust the ingredients to make the quantity you require. Enjoy!

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.

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.