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Indian cooking with Mustard oil

Mustard oil is used to make curries, deep fry Pakora, and make pickles. The oil is heated to a smoking point and then cooled down,  before using it.


Erucic acid in Mustard oil varies between 22% to 50% of the total fatty acid content. The Erucic acid gives the strong pungent smell. Heating the oil to smoking point makes the pungency mild.


Erucic acid can cause allergic reactions and may even be carcinogenic. In reality, an adult must consume over one gallon of mustard oil per day to be worried about the carcinogenic effects. However, heating the oil to the smoking point can irritate eyes, and cause respiratory discomfort. If you are Asthmatic, please let someone else heat the oil to smoking point.


In United States Canada and European Unions, oils exceeding 5% Erucic acid (Percentage of total fatty acid) are deemed to be non-edible, and un-suitable for human consumption. To this end, many packers sell a blend of Mustard oil and Soy oil.


Rapeseed and Mustard seed belong to similar plant species. Both exhibit similar nutritional profile (Omega 3 acids) as well as the temperature profile for cooking. The rapeseed for producing Canola oil has been genetically engineered to reduce Erucic acid to 2%. Nowadays, genetically engineered mustard seed is also available in Australia and India to produce Mustard oil with Erucic acid even lower than 1%.


If you do not wish to heat mustard oil to a smoking point, just mix it with Ghee, Peanut oil, or Canola oil.


To fry a curry Masala, heat Ghee, Peanut oil, or Canola oil in a pan. Add equal amount of mustard oil, heat to medium heat to fry onions, garlic, ginger and spices. This eliminates need to heat the mustard oil to smoking point.


In North India, Peanut oil is called 'Meetha Tel' (sweet oil), and Mustard oil is called 'Karawa Tel' (bitter oil). In the olden days, Peanut oil and Mustard oil were mixed together to make 'economical' and mild pickles. The combination was routinely used to fry Pakora by street vendors. The combination oil eliminated the need to heat it to smoking point. The combination oil was called 'Milawati Tel' (Blended oil). Milawati Tel was frowned upon in the society and associated with corrupt retail merchants


In United States,  you can mix Half Mustard oil and Half Canola oil to make curries or pickles. This mix will add mild pungency eliminating need for heating it to a smoking point.


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