Chef Harish Thukran makes a very pertinent observation on cooking oil. He says it is very important to understand how various oils behave when they are heated. Heating can cause changes in colour, texture and even taste. However, what really matters is how oil behaves when it is heated to or beyond its smoking point.
The smoking point of oil (also known as burning point) is the temperature at which the oil begins emitting a continuous stream of smoke that is clearly visible. When oil is heated to or beyond its smoking point, especially for an extended period of time, most of the nutrients in the oil get destroyed, and worse still, some toxic and harmful compounds may also be formed. Many of these compounds are known to be carcinogenic.
That is why Chef Thukran recommends cold-pressed Mustard Oil, especially for Indian cooking. Indian culinary styles involve periods of extended heating, especially in slow-simmering cooking methods like Dum Pukht. Certain recipes also require sequential heating or multiple stages of cooking. Under such conditions, cooking media like olive oil, butter, coconut oil and sesame oil would be completely unsuitable because of their relatively low smoking points.
Cold-pressed Mustard Oil with its high smoking point of 250o C is ideal for India cooking because all the valuable nutrients in the oil are retained during the cooking process. Mustard Oil is packed with nutrients like Vitamin E, Calcium, Selenium, Protein, Dietary Fibre, Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA), Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA), Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). What a waste it would be if this wide array of nutrients were to be destroyed by heat during the cooking process!
Another legendary culinary expert, Chef Manjit Gill, also highlighted this aspect while headlining a cooking webinar organized by the Hindustan Times media group. He pointed out that since Mustard Oil is an ancient and innately Indian cooking medium, each and every Indian dish can be cooked in this oil, without worrying about loss of nutrients, rancidity or toxicity.
So if you are cooking traditional Indian food, don’t choose fancy overseas oils. Rely on the 250o C smoking point assurance and trust cold-pressed Mustard Oil.