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Mustard Oil

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I want to try a recipe which requires mustard oil.

I went to a couple of Indian/Bangladeshi supermarkets in Brick Lane, London. They had 5l cans of 'Blended Edible' mustard oil, which I would never use all of. All the smaller bottles had 'External use only' printed on them.

The shop assistant I asked said there was no difference and that they were labelled differently for import tax purposes. Is this true? Can I use the 'External Only' version for cooking?

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I want to try a recipe which requires mustard oil. 

I went to a couple of Indian/Bangladeshi supermarkets in Brick Lane, London.  They had 5l cans of 'Blended Edible' mustard oil, which I would never use all of.  All the smaller bottles had 'External use only' printed on them. 

The shop assistant I asked said there was no difference and that they were labelled differently for import tax purposes.  Is this true? Can I use the 'External Only' version for cooking?

I have read that mustard oil must cannot be sold for food use because of its high erucic acid content so has to be labelled as external use only.

KTC oil is sold by Spices of India and labelled as external use.

There is a mail from the MD of KTC here. with details of why it is labelled as such.

He says:

"If you have used our oil as a food ingredient I do not believe you will have done yourself any harm; despite the erucic acid legislation, many members of the ethnic community (from the Indian sub-continent) persist in using mustard oil without apparent harm. Indeed many eminent chefs recommend the oil for the preparation and cooking of authentic dishes from India."


I wonder if the blended oil contains a lower concentration of erucic acid.

Edited by broadway (log)

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The 'external only' oil is what you need. You'll be fine-though it's certainly an acquired taste it's one that millions are addicted to.

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Welcome to eG, Citylunch. As muichoi says, you will be fine with that external use oil, which is meant to satisfy labelling authorities. 95% of that oil is used for food as today it is way too precious to be used for body massages and to be dribbled into ones ears or nostrils, as was the case in my childhood and youth, many decades ago [when we grew and pressed our own!] The mustard now probably comes from Canada, which grows a variety of high and low erucic acid types of canola and Brassica juncea, the black mustard, from which this oil is derived.

There are many elements of viscosity and lusciousflavor notes missing from these oils compared to the traditional oils freshly emerged from wooden presses in Bengal. Think EVOO from Italy and nondescript grades from "änywhere".

Cooking with mustard oil has 3 aspects:

1. raw: as used in mashed potatoes, eggplant roasted over coals or baked in embers, or in Bengali sweet-sour relishes such as woodapple, kvathbel [Feronia spp.] mashed up with fresh thai-type green chili, cane jaggery and a thread of mustard oil.

2A. raw as a finish or final temper to a number of hot dishes, all in the lunch or daytime category, in the Rarhi canon at least. These may be vegetarian or fish preparations, and a thin thread of oil is dribbled in just as the dih is remove from heat: to add a tiny zing, not overstated. Some of these may already have been cooked with mustard paste.

2B. With mustard paste, raw mustard oil + turmeric + salt mixed with slices of Tenualosa hilsa, which may be a) steamed under hot rice at the table; b) packed in banana leaf packets, paturi, traditionally baked in embers; c) steamed, delicately, in a closed container. Treatment c + grated coconut + hint of cilantro given to shrimp, all spices VERY understated, steamed delicately, eaten with steaming jasmine rice.

3. Used as frying and cooking medium. Complex use. Come to gourmetindia where we have intensive discussions of Rarhi cookery, if interested.

What are you cooking, if I may ask? With your London exposure, probably something with East Bengal antecedents?


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The bay leaves mentioned are STRICTLY Indian tejpatta, cassia leaf, Cinnamonum tamala/obtusifolium. They should be available from the same Bangladeshi grocer you get your spices from.

Panch phoron: they should supply you, or you can mix your own> cumin, fennel, nigella, fenugreek, randhuni seeds, all whole. If you cannot get randhuni seeds, leave it out; fenugreek should be in smallest proportion. Make sure the PP does NOT DARKEN. It needs merely to release its aroma.

The use of PP + the garam masala ingredients does not occur in Rarhi cooking. It is either one or the other. This is an East Bengal Muslim dish with its own flavor palette.

Rub the fish with some salt+ turmeric powder, if you wish; a tiny. This will help form a thin coat while frying, and remove objectionable flavors.

Add a tiny pinch of sugar to wake up the flavors. Eat with rice, and a wedge of freshly cut lime, still green. Make sure some of the rind oils enter your plate along with the juice, i.e. use your fingers with abandon, don't be a toff.

Make good jasmine rice, buy from a good Thai or oriental grocery, wash several times, cook very slightly moist, never on the dry side. DO NOT eat with LONG GRAIN basmati. The mini-grain aromatics from Bengal like Kalojira, Shitabhog, Vishnubgog are fine.

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