Speaking at a webinar organized by a well known media group, one of India’s leading culinary experts, Chef Manjit Gill, made an interesting observation about cold-pressed Mustard Oil. He said this aromatic and flavoursome oil was one of the very few cooking oils that could be used in its raw form for Indian dishes.
Refined oils are largely tasteless. Flaxseed and sesame seed oils are healthy but don’t taste good – that’s why they usually aren’t consumed in their raw form. On the other hand cold-pressed Mustard Oil with its warm flavour, sharp aroma and characteristic pungency is a different experience altogether and can, therefore, be savoured and enjoyed in its raw form. In fact, as Chef Gill pointed out, there are numerous dishes in Bihar, Bengal and other parts of eastern India that use raw Mustard Oil as a key ingredient. Today we are going to look at one such dish – from Bihar. It is a roasted aubergine preparation known as Baingan Ka Chokha.
It is a simple, rustic dish prepared using everyday ingredients and spices.
Aubergine (Baingan): 1, large
Tomatoes: 4, medium sized
Green Chillies: 2
Mustard Oil: 4 tablespoons
Chilli Powder: Just a pinch
Lemon Juice: 2 tablespoons
Coriander (Dhania) Leaves, finely chopped: 1 tablespoon
Salt: to taste
The ingredients given above are for four servings. Increase or decrease the quantities proportionately depending on the number of servings you require.
Take a kitchen knife and carefully make multiple slits on the surface of the aubergine. Use your hands to rub some mustard oil evenly on the aubergine.
Use a pair of tongs to roast the aubergine on an open flame (on Low heat), turning it slowly to ensure even roasting. A bit of charring during this process is okay – but the skin should not get completely burnt (that could ruin the taste).
Once the aubergine is done, roast the tomatoes and green chillies in the same way.
Let the roasted aubergine cool down. Then peel the skin off – you can do this with your hands since the roasted and charred skin will already be brittle and flaky. Chop the peeled aubergine into small pieces and then mash it.
Similarly, chop and mash the roasted tomatoes (no need to peel them though).
Finely chop the roasted chillies.
In a mixing bowl add the mashed aubergine and tomatoes along with the roasted and chopped green chillies, the chilli powder, lemon juice and mustard oil. Add salt to taste and mix well.
Transfer the contents to a serving dish and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Your traditional Bihari Baingan Ka Chokha is now ready to be served. It can be eaten with Roti or served as a side dish with rice. As you can see, there is no cooking involved – and yes, that rich, enticing flavour of mustard oil which makes this dish so delicious is mustard oil in its raw form!
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