Appearing on a webinar organized by the Hindustan Times media group as part of their Spotlight series, celebrity chef and culinary expert Manjit Gill focused on a rather unique aspect of cooking oil – the taste factor. Usually, oil is simply used as a cooking medium – cooking the food but not really contributing to its taste. However, when one uses natural cold-pressed oil, its inherent flavour becomes an integral part of the dish.
Cold-pressed oil has a characteristic taste of its own. For instance, Mustard Oil has a warm, spicy flavour with a typical pungent taste. Olive oil has a nutty flavour with gentle spiciness and a slightly bitter taste (or aftertaste). Sesame (Til) oil has a smoky, earthy flavour.
In the course of the webinar, Chef Manjit Gill focused on the various ways in which Mustard Oil can be used as a taste agent – going beyond its basic function as a cooking medium. In the traditional cuisines of Punjab, Kashmir, Bengal, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and many other regions, the characteristic taste of Mustard Oil is an integral part of the dish. You can’t cook an authentic version by substituting some other cooking oil. Kashmir’s legendary Wazwan cuisine can never be made without Mustard Oil; nor can the Bengali Fish Curry in all its traditional glory be cooked without using Mustard Oil.
Chef Gill also mentions another innovative use of Mustard Oil – it can be used to balance the taste of a dish. He demonstrates how it can be used to add a spicy zing to an otherwise bland salad. It can also be used to balance the bitterness of certain ingredients used in a dish.
The great thing about cold-pressed Mustard Oil, Chef Gill points out, is that you don’t always have to use a large quantity. In some recipes, just a teaspoon of Mustard Oil can make all the difference. That’s because it has a powerful, dominant taste.
So get creative with Mustard Oil. Go off the beaten path. Be different. Find ways to use the unique flavour of cold-pressed Mustard Oil to add new and surprising dimensions to the dishes you cook. Put on your chef’s cap – and let the experimentation begin!