The Quest for the Best

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There’s a great quality in today’s younger generation. They refuse to settle for anything less than the best. They are always looking for the best workout, the best weight-loss method, the best fitness routine, the best stress-relieving techniques… and so on.

Health and Nutrition is high on their list of concerns; so sooner or later the question is bound to crop up: Which is the best edible oil?

A decade or so ago, this would have been a very confusing question. A mind-boggling array of refined oils came flooding into the market. They promised everything from heart health and lower cholesterol to slimming and nutritional benefits. Sadly, these were false claims – and their high-decibel advertising campaigns were blatantly misleading and untrue. In several cases, the Advertising Standards Council of India intervened, compelling marketers to withdraw these ads.

The younger generation was watching closely. And being of the health-conscious variety they were highly concerned. So they turned to their doctors, dieticians and fitness instructors with the question: Which is the best edible oil? Mustard oil was the reply they encountered from numerous sources… in particular, their grandparents and parents.

Eminent cardiologist Dr S. C. Manchanda points out that the age-old oils like mustard oil, desi ghee and coconut oil are far healthier than chemically processed refined oils. Particularly in the case of mustard oil, its antioxidant, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties and attributes make it tower above other edible oils. In fact, it isn’t just a cooking oil – it’s a natural medicine and health supplement too.

Thanks to medical experts like Dr Manchanda and many others, the question “Which is the best edible oil?” can now be answered in two simple words: Mustard Oil.

Mustard Oil – A Smart Oil for a Smart Generation

We Indians have always known about mustard oil… for thousands of years… across generations. We have used it as a cooking medium, as a flavouring ingredient, as a pickling agent along with a host of medicinal applications in popular home remedies and in a variety of non-food applications like hair care, skincare, etc.

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Sometime in the early nineties, mustard oil lost its sheen for a while. It became a product that was distributed through the Public Distribution System – which created a perception that it was “a poor man’s oil”. Also, the nineties saw the advent of a slew of pretty looking refined oils that (falsely) promised health benefits like protection from heart disease and lower levels of cholesterol. Many of these refined oils were eventually compelled to withdraw their advertising campaigns when they were unable to support their claims with medical or scientific facts.

Gen Next comprises a different class of consumers. Gen Next tends to be sharp and incisive – and they don’t like being taken for a ride. These young consumers began revisiting their traditional roots. Heeding the advice of their grandparents, parents, fitness counsellors and doctors, they rediscovered mustard oil. The medical and scientific community too had started taking a closer look at mustard oil. A landmark study by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that switching to mustard oil as a cooking medium reduced the risks of coronary artery disease by more than 70 percent.

Spurred on by such findings, Gen Next has started appreciating mustard oil for what it really is – a Smart New-Age Oil. For starters, it’s a lot more than just a cooking medium. Mustard oil contains glucosinolate that fights microbes. In addition to such antimicrobial properties, mustard oil also has powerful antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory powers. And it’s a great antioxidant too!

For P Mark Mustard Oil it is a matter of great pride to be a part of this rich heritage… we are honoured to be part of this legacy of healthy eating and healing properties that have pervaded Indian culinary arts and herbal medicines for millenniums. And as the Mustard Specialist, we have, for more than eighty years, focussed on this fascinating Smart Oil – mustard oil.

Real People… Real Connections

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The inhabitants of Tinsel Town sometimes seem to be from another planet! They don’t appear to understand the real world at all. However, of all the celebrities in the Indian film industry, Boman Irani is definitely one of the most down-to-earth ones, firmly grounded in the realities of everyday life. In fact, he has – on several occasions – pointed out that film stars cannot live in a bubble. They must remain connected with the human condition if they wish to be true to their art.

Boman believes that actors need to stay connected with real people and real situations – otherwise, it becomes difficult to convincingly play roles that depict the stark realities of the human condition.

Boman is currently playing the role of Nobel Laureate and child rights crusader Kailash Satyarthi in a movie titled Jhalki. It is a role that cannot possibly be brought to life if one is unable to plumb the evil depths of child trafficking and the dark underbelly of bonded child labour.

For the role, Boman needed to bring himself face-to-face with the ugliness and squalor of poverty and oppression that forms the backdrop of child trafficking in India. He had to acquire an in-depth understanding of the underlying circumstances and develop an intense sense of empathy in order to “become” Kailash Satyarthi.

P Mark Mustard Oil is extremely proud that its brand ambassador is playing such an iconic role. As a brand, we too strive to remain closely connected to the realities that comprise the lives of our consumers who come from all walks of life; some of them are located in the remote interiors of the country – and yet we have remained connected with them for more than 80 years.

Like Boman Irani, we too believe that it’s always about people, relationships and connections. And that’s why our customers believe in us just as Boman’s fans believe in his unwavering ability to do justice to every challenging role he undertakes.

Mustard Oil… Proud to be India’s Oil

The mighty Himalayas have bestowed many valuable gifts upon India… medicinal herbs, exotic fruits and lots more. Mustard too originated in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. Food historians have found evidence of mustard being cultivated in ancient India as far back as 3000 BCE!

Excavations at numerous sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation indicate that the ancient inhabitants farmed and used mustard in various ways.

From India, this healthy marvel of Nature spread to other parts of the world. Mustard seeds have been discovered in the homes excavated at Stone Age settlements. Early Sumerian and Chinese texts also have references to mustard. Mustard seeds were also found in Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb when it was opened.

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While Mustard and Mustard Oil are truly Indian in their origins, the term “Mustard” is of foreign origin. In India, it is – as we all know – called Sarson with various dialectical variations across the country. The roots of the word lie in the Anglo-Norman ‘Mustarde’ and the Old French ‘Mostarde’.

However, even the Anglo-Norman and Old French terms are derived from an earlier Roman connotation. The hard-drinking Romans mixed grape juice with ground mustard seeds to create a pungent wine. They called it mustum ardens which means “burning wine”. The term Mustard is, therefore, derived from mustum ardens.

Today, ardent mustard lovers can be found all over the world and Indians should be proud that this is where it all began. Indeed, the Romans may have named it and the ancients may have relished it – but mustard and mustard oil is innately Indian…

Yes, Mustard Oil is India’s Oil in the true sense of the term!

The Perfect Pickle – Getting it Right

Grandma did it so effortlessly – and with such delectable results – but we just can’t seem to get it right. We are talking about pickling. So many of us have tried our hand at it… and failed.

You know that wretched feeling when your pickle comes nowhere close to the delicious ones that grandma used to make? What makes it worse is that we can’t seem to understand what went wrong.

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So here’s something to help you out: a step by step guide to getting pickling right.

First, pick the right time of year. In North India, the dry, hot summer months are perfect for pickling. The operative word here is “dry” – moisture is the bane of good pickling. It could ruin your pickle; worse still, it could cause mould formation on the pickle. Yuck!

Second: the fruits or vegetables that you wish to pickle should be thoroughly dried and cured with salt.

Third: Choose your oil carefully. In North Indian pickles, the preferred oil is mustard oil – and there’s a very good reason for that. Mustard oil is the secret ingredient. Really, it is! Mustard oil has strong antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Mustard oil is the preservative that keeps your pickle tasty and edible for a long, long time. In fact, mustard oil is chosen because it remains stable over an extended period of time. In some other parts of the country, people use sesame oil for much the same reason. However, the taste factor of pickles made in mustard oil is different – more tangy and pungent.

Fourthly, use sterile, non-reactive pickling jars for the process. Any ladles, spoons, etc that you use should also be dry and clean.

And last but not the least: Sunshine – Mother’s Nature’s contribution to your pickle. Cover the mouth of the pickling jar with clean, dry muslin tied around the neck of the jar. Now place the jar out in the hot bright sunshine. Before the sun sets, bring the jar indoors and store in a dry place. After sunning for four to five days, your pickle will be ready.

Well, that’s it – choose your ingredients carefully, especially the mustard oil, and painstakingly ensure that no moisture gets into your pickle… and all will be well.

Happy Pickling!

Boman Irani – Many Faces, Two Sides

Over the years, as a specialist character actor Boman Irani has had many faces, many personalities and, of course, many quirks. However, he believes that at a basic level there are only two dimensions involved in creating memorable onscreen characters: External factors and Internal factors.

He explains this by using the character of Professor Virus (3 Idiots) as an example. The external factors are what the audience sees – the outlandish wig; the trousers that come up all the way to the character’s belly; the weird style of walking; and the permanent sneer. By the way, for that sneer, Boman had to wear a double gum under his upper lip!

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However, it is the internal factors that create the real character. More importantly, they define the rationale underlying the character. Continuing with the example of Professor Virus, the wig and the attire depict an old fashioned, traditional person. The walk exudes the arrogance and the sense of self importance that is deeply ingrained in the character. The sneer is, of course, a symbol of the utter disdain with which he treats people in general and his students in particular.

Boman points out that the internal factors represent the real core of the character. They are the building blocks. The external factors flow from these building blocks.

This is an idea that resonates very strongly with all of us at P Mark Mustard Oil (for which Boman Irani is the brand ambassador). The essence of the brand lies in its values, its ethics, its relentless commitment to quality, and its dedication to creating customer delight – over and over again. This has been the essence of the brand for more than eighty years. The outward manifestation of these attributes is a trusted product, attractive packaging and long-term brand leadership.

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Both these dimensions – the inner and the outer – have made P Mark Mustard Oil a brand that has been trusted across generations. Both these dimensions have played a key role in making P Mark the Mustard Specialist.

A Parsi Pickle to Tickle your Taste Buds

One of the reasons why Boman Irani is a foodie is that his family has had generations of superb chefs – including his grandmother, his mother and his wife. He has fond childhood memories of relishing a tangy pickle that is typical of old Parsi families – it is also popular in parts of Gujarat. This is a fenugreek-based pickle known as Methianoo Achaar.

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Here’s the original recipe especially for those purists who want to make it just the way it has been made across generations.

For starters, this is what you will need…

Green Mangoes with hard seeds (sliced and mixed): 3 Kg

Salt: 1.25 cups

Dry red chillies: 125 g

Fenugreek seeds: 250 g

Cumin seeds: 1 tablespoon

Turmeric powder: 3 tablespoons

Asafoetida: 15 g

Garlic (ground without water): 1 clove

Mustard Seeds (peeled): Half a cup

Mustard Seeds (unpeeled): 2 tablespoons

Sesame Oil: 4 cups

Mustard Oil: 4 cups

Take the red chillies, fenugreek, cumin, turmeric powder and asafoetida and fry them separately in a little sesame oil. Take these fried ingredients and grind them separately. Mix all the ingredients with the mango slices – all the ingredients except the unpeeled mustard seeds. Next, heat the sesame oil and the mustard oil together. Add the unpeeled mustards seeds and let the oil cool.

When the oil reaches room temperature, place the mango mixture in the oil. Pour into a sterilized pickling jar and close the mouth with a muslin cloth. Place in the sun for three to four days (taking the jar indoors at night to avoid any build-up of moisture).

And it’s done! Your authentic Methianoo Achaar is ready to spice up all your meals. Thank you, Boman Irani! What a recommendation! What a pickle!

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