Why Indians are obsessed with the usage of Mustard oil?
Why Indians are obsessed with the usage of Mustard oil? | Credit: NDTV

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Why Indians are obsessed with the usage of Mustard oil?

Dec 19, 2018

It is time the ubiquitous Mustard Oil, abundantly found and generously used in almost all of Northern and Eastern India finds its patronage in the global cuisine for the sheer range, unique flavour and robust aroma as much for its therapeutic value, which makes it a nutrient-rich edible oil to be used as a cooking base. The Indians who just cannot bring out the desired flavour in their cooking without its ample usage can take solace from the fact that it won’t be the first time, either. Hippocrates, the Greek physician, prescribed it for medicinal preparation, the Romans spiced up their wine with it and Pythagoras, and a renowned Greek scientist advocated its use as a panacea for scorpion stings. 

Mustard oil cooking benefits
Mustard oil cooking benefits

Mustard Oil, commonly referred to as ‘Sarson ka Tel’, extracted from wither-pressing or grinding Mustard seeds is the most favoured oil in the Northern and Eastern part of India. The golden-yellow-coloured honey-coloured oil has a sharp and pungent aroma and many consider it to be an acquired taste which delicate palates do not take to, easily. Grown in India, since 3000 B.C mustard has multifarious use in the national cuisine of India where its yellow seeds are a hot favourite in Eastern India recipes and its black seeds are a staple part of flavouring Western and Southern Indian menu.

The top trending topics suggest that scientists  now advocate its usage as one of the health-friendly oils with adequate amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and low quantity of mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fats, commonly referred to as good fats for their lowering blood cholesterol and not leading to clogging of the arterial walls of the heart chambers.

Indians, however have been relying since age immemorial not only as an integral part of their monthly grocery item but also to cure a range of ailments like dandruff, chapped lips, cough and cold, muscle stiffness and pain on account of arthritis or inflammation and an effective anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Babies are regularly massaged with warm mustard oil to strengthen their muscles and fortify their organs and keep them warm, mustard oil tempered with carom seeds and garlic is used to relieve cough and cold symptoms, a drop or two of mustard oil in the belly button is supposed to give relief from chapped lips and constipation, regular massage improves blood circulation, and muscle numbness and thus functions as a very potent natural stimulant, promotes hair growth and checks premature greying, lends suppleness to the body and acts as a heat barrier to trap the body heat and protects it from intense cold , acts as an insect repellent, provides relief in asthmatic attacks, the list is endless. Each new household has a different story to unfold, a new paean to sing on the multifarious usage of mustard oil, a sort of panacea for all griefs, well almost! 

mustard oil for weight loss
mustard oil for weight loss

If you need any more reason to stock it up on your kitchen shelf, the best is yet to come. The most predominant usage of this ultimate flavoured oil is in lending unique taste and aroma to the Indian cooking which takes so favourably to mustard oil, on account of it being most compatible to be used at high smoking point at 480°F / 250°C and chefs all over the world vouch that it is impossible to replicate delectable Indian flavours, especially of Northern and Eastern India (Kashmir, Punjab, West Bengal, Orissa and North-Eastern States) in any other oil. It brings out the best of vegetarian and non-vegetarian cooking and pickles, so synonymous with Indian food can never be authentic without being doused in mustard oil. Additionally there are certain dishes in the North like Tandoori Gobhi Tikka, Non-veg Tikka, Tandoori items, Aloo Bharta, Baigan Bharta, varieties of dal, most Bengali fish preparations, especially the ones which are steamed like Chingri/ Ilish Bhapa, Kosha Manghso (tenderised mutton in rich thick gravy) , Murghir Jhol (richly flavoured Chicken curry) and Posto (Poppy Seed) based dishes which would just fall flat without a generous heap of mustard oil.

Trending topics today profess additional benefits of this magic potion. Its regular intake lowers apprehension of cancer and alleviates symptoms of depression too. All the more reason that the next time the pungent flavour of mustard oil wafts in through the door, do not scrunch your nose but take to it like a fish takes to water.