Some people tend to see the characteristic pungent taste of cold-pressed Mustard Oil as an attribute that is difficult to handle because they don’t want the flavour of Mustard Oil to dominate every dish. These people are missing out on one of the most useful facets of Mustard Oil – the opportunity to create an exciting spectrum of flavours by balancing the taste of Mustard Oil with other flavours. That’s the attribute which makes Mustard Oil such a versatile ingredient.
In this post, we will discuss various ways of carrying out this “balancing act”. One of the most delectable ways of balancing the pungency of Mustard Oil is by adding an ingredient that is sweet, something like sugar, jaggery or fruits. Some chefs even add a tiny dollop of jam!
Another interesting balance can be achieved by blending the sharpness of Mustard Oil with the sourness of curd (Dahi). One can see (and savour) examples of this in certain traditional recipes from Punjab, Kashmir and Bengal – and also in ancient Awadhi culinary practices. This dash of sourness can also be added using lemon juice. In combination with Mustard Oil it produces a subtle, mellow flavour that adds a completely new dimension to the dish.
While headlining a webinar organized by the Hindustan Times media group on the subject of “Cooking with Mustard Oil”, the legendary Chef Manjit Gill also talked about various techniques for balancing the robust taste of Mustard Oil. One simple way, he explained, was to reduce the quantity of Mustard Oil being used. For example, in a salad a few drops of Mustard Oil are enough to accentuate the taste.
Finally, there is a traditional culinary practice mainly in the northern parts of India which involves heating cold-pressed Mustard Oil to its smoking point and then adding a pinch of asafoetida (Heeng) or half a teaspoon of salt. The oil is then allowed to cool down to room temperature. The pungency of Mustard Oil gets reduced and becomes gentler, mellower – and the dishes cooked using this oil will not have a taste that is dominated by Mustard Oil.
Now that you know these little tricks, you can come up with your own methods of balancing the taste of Mustard Oil with other flavours to create new experiences in your kitchen.