Mustard oil is one of the oldest known cooking oils, believed to have been used in India for more than 3000 years. It is made from pressing the seeds of the mustard plant, which is a member of the Brassica family. Mustard oil offers a variety of benefits which include being a rich source of fatty acids, antioxidants and other vitamins that are good for the skin, heart and overall health.
Mustard oil is generally pale yellow or reddish in colour and has a slightly pungent or hot taste. It is widely used in cooking in India and Pakistan, as well as parts of Bangladesh, Nepal, Japan and Korea. The oil is commonly used as an ingredient in Indian curries and as a condiment in other dishes such as dhokla and chaat. Mustard oil is also used to flavour and preserve pickles, while in some areas it is used as a massage oil or even used in lamps as a form of illumination.
When shopping for mustard oil, you should look for a bottle that has a golden-yellow colour and a thick and pungent aroma. It is important to note that there are two types of mustard oils available: cold-pressed and traditional, which is mildly processed and is not recommended for cooking due to the presence of erucic acid. The cold-pressed variety is the preferred choice for cooking as it is healthier and more nutritious.
Mustard oil is packed with fatty acids that can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also high in mono-saturated fatty acids, which are linked to better blood sugar levels, helping to slow the absorption of carbohydrates. The high levels of essential fatty acids, such as linoleic and oleic acids, help to promote healthy skin, hair and nails.
Mustard oil contains a range of antioxidants which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits. These antioxidants can help to fight free radicals, reduce oxidative stress and protect against damage. It is also an excellent source of Vitamin E, which is essential for healthy skin, eyes, hair and nails.
Mustard oil can also be beneficial for digestion and is said to have antiseptic properties when used externally. The oil has been studied for its potential in treating various other ailments, including arthritis, respiratory diseases, kidney problems and even cancer.
In terms of cooking, mustard oil has a higher smoke point than many other oils, as well as a robust flavour and aroma that can elevate a dish. It is best used sparingly as part of a marinade, for sautéing or for roasting vegetables. It should not be used for deep frying, however, as the fatty acids can break down.
If you’re looking to reap the health benefits of mustard oil, it’s best to purchase cold-pressed varieties, as the traditional kind can contain too much erucic acid. It is also important to store mustard oil away from light and heat, in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Overall, mustard oil is a versatile and healthy addition to any kitchen. It’s packed with essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which can offer countless health benefits. With its robust flavour and aroma, it can enhance any dish and is sure to bring a unique dimension to your cooking.