The pungent culinary wonder…Mustard oil — the one love-it-or-hate-it ingredient that is essential to an Indian kitchen. Whether it is the Nawabs of Lucknow or the cooks of Calcutta, all of them swear by this pungent culinary wonder.
Mustard oil is key in making Nihari, the classic Lucknow lamb trotter stew. I have memories of Munir Ustad burning fresh mustard oil for sautéing lamb, and the pungency of home pressed pure mustard oil would make my eyes water every time, without fail.
Let me give you an interesting, secret tip straight from the khansamas of Lucknow — if you want your mustard oil to mellow over a period of time, put it in a earthen pot and bury it underground for a couple of months. The heat of the earth sucks away the pungency of the oil like magic. Don’t believe me? Try it, but please mark your spot before you forget where you buried your oil!!! The magic elements behind the much talked medicinal properties of mustard oil are sulphur compounds and erucic acid.
The latter is now used in almost all trial medicine for cardiovascular treatments.
Here’s a western recipe for a dressing that I conjured using our very own mustard oil: Mustard oil tomato
Sesame dressing :
White Sesame seeds: 1 tsp
Tomatoes (quartered): 3 nos
Mustard oil: 2/3 cup
White vinegar: ¼ cup
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat the oil till it smokes, split in two.
2. Add the tomatoes to one half among with the sesame seeds, cook till tomatoes are tender, add vinegar and take off the flame.
3. Blend and season, slowly add the remaining oil and cool.