Headlining a webinar organized by P Mark Mustard Oil in partnership with the Hindustan Times media group, the legendary Chef Manjit Gill made a very interesting point about Mustard Oil while demonstrating various culinary uses of this versatile oil. He said that Mustard Oil with its characteristic sharp, pungent taste was a very good ingredient for balancing flavours. For example, in certain dishes the bitterness of a particular ingredient or the overwhelming sweetness of another ingredient could be “balanced” by using cold-pressed Mustard Oil. Chef Gill pointed out that Mustard Oil in its natural, cold-pressed form had such a dominant flavour that sometimes only a few drops were sufficient for achieving the desired balancing of flavours.
This art of balancing flavours using Mustard Oil can be seen in various regional cuisines across India. These are traditional recipes that have used this balancing technique for hundreds of years.
In Bengal, there is a dish called Chingri Bhaapa in which prawns (Chingri) are coated with a mustard sauce and then steamed in Mustard Oil. The salty-sweetness of the prawns gets balanced by the sharpness of the Mustard Oil.
In traditional Kashmiri cuisine, there is a dish known as Haaq in which the relatively subdued flavour of the Haaq (greens) could easily have been completely obliterated by the spices used in the recipe – red chilli and asafoetida. However, by tempering the spices in Mustard Oil the flavour of the Haaq is balanced and accentuated.
Likewise there are many ancient Awadhi dishes in which the sourness of curd is subtly balanced using the sharpness of Mustard Oil to create the rich and unique flavours that have made this culinary style so famous and popular.
So go ahead and expand the range of dazzling flavours that you can create with Mustard Oil by using this ancient “balancing act” in your kitchen.