COOKING WITH MUSTARD OIL

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Choosing a oil best for cooking can be a daunting and an extremely difficult task for anyone, specially when the supermarket shelves are flooded with a variety of oils from canola, rice bran, olive, and various refined vegetable oils and not to forget their super-light and low-absorb versions as well which promises to be a one stop solution for almost all your health problems.  Unfortunately, you will not find much of our local oils on these shelves or maybe just stacked somewhere in the corner thanks to the advertising industry.  One such local oil is mustard oil.  Mustard oil is rightly said as Eastern India’s olive oil.  A Bengali will never cook their fish without mustard oil, or a person from Bihar will add it to their chokhas, or jhalmuri, or a spicy jackfruit curry and not to forget a favorite for most of us aam ka achar or mango pickle is always made in mustard oil.  There is a reason behind it than just the pungent and tangy taste of mustard oil.  Many of us are unfamiliar with using mustard oil as a cooking medium and mostly rely on fancy, low-absorbing, heart friendly refined version.  Refined oils are produced at such high temperature levels that not only do they lose all their vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids but also their taste and flavor.  Choose your oil which is local and not refined.  Experts recommend choosing an oil specific to the region you belong to such as groundnut oil, sesame oil, mustard oil or coconut oil.  All of the above oils are fit to be used in Indian kitchen as a cooking medium.  Just make sure you are not buying the refined version.  Since this post is about mustard oil let’s get to know this oil a little better.  Mustard oil is obtained from the local mustard seeds.  It is dark yellow in color and has a pungent fragrance and taste.  Once it was considered to be allergic and toxic by few countries as it contains erucic acids and it had adverse effect on rats.  But today, after successful research and work, it has been proved that consumption of mustard oil has no adverse effect on humans.

 

Benefits of Mustard Oil:

 

Mustard Oil is an ancient oil that is loaded with health benefits.

 

  1. It is has high levels of MUFA, which is very essential for our health.
  2. It has an ideal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids required by our body for good health.
  3. Since it contains healthy fats, it helps in maintaining cholesterol levels.
  4. Mustard oil has antibacterial properties.  When consumed, it fights bacterial infections in the urinary tract, colon and as well as coughs and colds.
  5. Mustard oil has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to reduce aches and pains in the body.
  6. Mustard oil because of its antimicrobial properties acts as a natural preservative for pickles.
  7. Pure mustard oil is low in free radicals and trans-fatty acids and rich in antioxidants.
  8. Mustard oil is also beneficial for skin and hair care.
  9. Mustard oil stimulates the gastric juices in the stomach.  It aids digestion.
  10. Mustard oil has a pungent taste which gives a unique flavor to various foods.

 

It is important to choose the unrefined version of mustard oil, which has gone through minimal chemical processing so that there is minimal loss of nutrients.  Choosing “Kachi Ghani” or cold pressed variety would be beneficial as the oil is obtained by a process of cold pressing the mustard seeds, which keeps the flavor, taste, and health benefits intact.

 

Choosing mustard oil over refined oil can be difficult for some people in the beginning, but once you get used to its taste and flavor it can be quite addictive.  Mustard oil has high smoking point, so heat it until it starts to smoke, this process makes it milder.  It can be easily used as a cooking medium for most of our daily meal from vegetables to dals, and curries.

– An Article by Ranjeeta Pathak (A Health Enthusiast)