Since its advent in the foothills of the Himalayas more than five thousand years ago, Mustard and Mustard Oil has been an integral part of India’s culinary traditions spanning thousands of years. This “hill tradition” underlying Mustard Oil is still visible in the robust hill folks of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kashmir who have no heart problems, no premature greying and none of the health problems usually associated with contemporary urban lifestyles.
Mustard Oil is also inexorably linked to the country’s culinary traditions – from the legendary Waazwaan cuisine of Kashmir and the overly generous portions of Punjabi dishes right down the much sought-after Fish Curries of Bengal and the everyday delights of Chokha in Bihar… it is the unique flavour of Mustard Oil that makes these dishes stand apart – and stand the test of time.
Food writer and enthusiast, Sudeshna Sengupta, remembers her grandmother sharing her “secret” recipes from an old tattered diary which had been passed down across generations; her grandmother would smile impishly and say: “Your fancy new oils will not create the same magic that our grandmothers and mothers created. You have to use cold pressed Mustard Oil!”
And granny was right (as grannies always and invariably are); certain inherently Indian dishes can never be made without Mustard Oil. It’s simply impossible!