What gives the popular Bengali dish Chingri Malai Curry its peppy zest? Is it the mustard oil? Yes, you are right!
What about Rui Shorshe? No prizes for guessing, it is our mustard oil!
The mouthwatering Hilsa dishes…? Yes, once again it is the mustard oil that gives all these dishes and many more its spicy flavour and that typical aroma only found in Bengali and other kitchens of Eastern India. Hence, it merits saying that this sharp, piquant oil is a regular in not just Bengali cuisine but also in Bihari, Nepali, Assamese, Oriya cuisines. In fact, most of the dishes made in Eastern India are cooked in this oil. It is also a familiar base in other Indian households. Cook with it or drizzle over your salads, this ‘tel’ has many amazing uses.
Mustard oil is commonly called ‘Sarson ka tel.’ Mustard seeds are grown and used in the Indian subcontinent. The oil is extracted by crushing or pressing the seeds of the mustard plant. The colour of this oil varies according to the seeds which are dark brown or white mustard seeds. Though there are ongoing debates about this celebrated oil, it is still considered a culinary rockstar for its spicy zest and flavour. ‘Sarson ka Tel’ has its cosmetic uses and benefits as well. Mustard oil is largely used in countries like Canada, Bangladesh, India and others. A legend has it that the Romans used to blend the seed in wine for its strong flavour and healing quality.
Uttar Pradesh leads in producing more than 50% of India’s mustard oil. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Tamilnadu, Karnataka are the other states where the production of mustard oil is quite common.
Mustard oil has various names. In Bengali it is called Sarsay Tel, Sorisha Tela in Oriya, whereas in Tamil it is called Kadugu Ennai, Rai nu Tel is Gujarati, Avanune in Telugu, and Mohariche Tel in Marathi. Mustard oil is commonly found in Bengali, Bihari and Bangladeshi kitchens.
According to Pallavi Srivastava, Fitness Nutritionist of Q-Slim Fitness Studio, (Quicker Slimming Solutions for a Better You!!) as this pungent oil contains erucic acid one should alternate it with other cooking oils when using it on a daily basis. She adds that it is best when consumed in the kachi ghani form.
Apart from its basic uses, mustard oil is also proven to be effective for hair growth and for improving the texture of your skin. Dietician Deepa Nandy of Deepa Nandy’s Nutriguide points out that mustard oil contains antibacterial and antifungal properties making it beneficial for the skin. If mustard oil is regularly used for massages it makes the skin smooth and soft. EFA such as linoleic and oleic acid is known to enhance blood circulation making this a great oil for strong and long hair.
SETTING IT APART
The variety of uses this oil has to offer is incredible, which extends from its goodness to skin and hair care to tasty cooking. Mustard oil is easily accessible at a comparatively less cost than other oils and bigger benefits.
Mustard can be grown in different types of soil. Generally, fertile, well-drained, loamy soils are most preferred. For better crop, there should be a good drainage system. Precautions must be taken to avoid waterlogging. Ideally, mustard is grown in a subtropical climate with a temperature ranging between 10 – 25 °C. The pH value of the ideal soil for the mustard crop is found to be between 6 to 8. As a rabi crop, the mustard seed is grown in West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa and in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh, it is cultivated as a catch crop.
DISHES WITH MUSTARD OIL
Deepa Nandy swears by ‘shorshe bata’. A sharp-tasting paste of mustard seeds and oil is used to showcase the delicacies of the popular river water fish Hilsa, Rohu, Katla in the eastern states in India. Shorshe Bata is the key ingredient in the preparation of a famous Bengali dish called Ilish.
It is widely used in Asian kitchens for cooking and in dressing Chinese cuisines, while Koreans often use it in hot seasoning blends.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF MUSTARD OIL
However, a ‘Talk with your Doc’ will surely help in dispelling the doubts associated with this oil.
Having said this, mustard oil contains a great number of vitamins, minerals, iron, and calcium. Mustard oil is exceptionally good for hair–related problems. Its proven health benefit is hair growth. The mineral content of this oil also stops greying of hair and is known to prevent hair fall. It is effective if you have a severe cold and cough. Many Indian homes boil mustard oil with camphor and ajwain to apply on the chest to clear chest congestion.