How would you react if the bright red chillies you picked out during vegetable shopping had neither spiciness nor heat? Or if the succulent oranges you got at the supermarket produced little or no juice – wouldn’t your healthy breakfast be ruined? Or imagine onions that are so utterly bland that you don’t shed a single tear while chopping them. What would your reaction be? You would think that there’s something seriously wrong with such chillies, oranges and onions, wouldn’t you?
The same alarm bells should go off if the cold-pressed Mustard Oil that you are buying does not produce smoke when you heat it. Regular readers of the recipes on this blog would be aware that we always ask you to heat Mustard Oil on a High flame till it reaches its smoking point; this is the point at which streams of richly aromatic white smoke start rising from the surface of the oil. This smoke is an essential part of the “Mustard Oil Cooking Experience”. In the good old days, the heady aroma of Mustard Oil coming from the Rasoi (kitchen) would signal to the entire family that a meal was being cooked.
If the Mustard Oil that you use does not emit smoke when you heat it, then like the chillies, oranges and onions we started this story with, there is something seriously wrong with the oil. And in all likelihood, that “something” is related to poor quality and impurities in the oil. At best, such Mustard Oil has been blended with cheaper refined oil; at worst, it could be adulterated. Moreover, low-grade Mustard Oil produced by crushing inferior seeds also produces little or no smoke.
It is also relevant to point out here that Mustard Oil has a high smoking point of around 250oC that is ideal of Indian cooking which involves multistage heating as well as extended heating. All the rich nutrients of Mustard Oil remain intact even at high temperatures.
So beware of low-smoke or no-smoke “variants” of Mustard Oil. They aren’t the real thing – always go for pure, high quality cold-pressed Mustard Oil.