It is sarson season in Dilli, and I savoured the first offering of the season only a few days ago. Give me Mustard Greens any time and you won’t hear a ‘no’. I absolutely relish the mix. And I take pride in being mommy’s veggie supplier. She instructs me, and I go out to the market/mandi/Big Apple/Reliance Fresh, wherever time permits, to find her the best and freshest possible produce. For this season’s ‘first buy’, I walked to a rickshaw vendor. He combined bathua, soya, palak and of course sarson and chopped it for me (they do it on request) in his hand-driven chopping machine.
And since I am talking Mustard here, I might as well add about my obsession of using Mustard oil in my cooking. When cooking with Mustard oil, you have to be a little patient else you get that bitter taste in your food which all (barring some nerds) dislike. The Mustard oil, unlike clarified butter and vegetable oil, takes a lot of time to heat up. But, as I have a penchant for elaborate cooking procedures, waiting for it to heat up is no issue for me. The simple ‘stir and serve’ does no good to my creativity as far as the kitchen is concerned. That perhaps ‘may’ explain my prolonged absence from my place near the cooking stove (yes it remains that for me, no matter what fancy names you may want to call it).
Anyway, back to Mustard oil: Many consider it unhealthy, some call it outdated compared to the much celebrated Extra Virgin Olive Oil, yet others make the weirdest face expressions to display their hatred for it. I confess I was one of them too. But then that was ‘Once upon a time’. Now, I propagate its use in the same manner as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar promotes The Art of Living. It does wonders to your hair (heat it and add 4-5 small cubes of camphor after crushing them), to your digestive system and what not. And then, the ones who create a lot of noise over their dislike for Mustard Oil should not forget that ages ago, when there was no Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vegetable oil and blah, Mustard oil was the sole medium of cooking.
I do the simple stir fry aloo with Mustard oil, which is a personal favourite. It takes about 45-60 minutes to prepare. Then there is the ‘On Special Request’ gobhi aloo dish that is relished by all in the house; of course it is done by me in Mustard oil.
And then to add some zing to the mustard sting is this silly little boy called Brother Bear. He hates the smell of Mustard oil. Every time I cook in it, he comes out of his room shouting curses at me. He even goes to the extent of making some hilariously outrageous statements that the ‘smell’ of Mustard oil causes ‘rashes’ on his body. Now, how absurd and silly can it possibly get?