Oil that will not break the bank

When my mother learned to make paratha my grandfather commissioned special ghee (clarified butter) to mark the occasion. My grandfather’s sister, my mother’s pishima, taught her to make parathas and she still fondly remembers the parathas she made on that day using ghee. When I was growing up ghee had gone out of fashion and Dalda (branded name for hydrogenated fat) was the trend. But then dalda had its share of vilification and sunflower oil then commonly known as white oil became the oil of choice for frying. Sunflower oil was called white oil as it’s colour was rather pale compared to the other oil that was staple in Bengali diet – the golden mustard oil.

In western countries too animal fat has been defamed over the last decade. Initially it was replaced by the hydrogenated oil but the problems of these trans fat are now well known. Olive oil is now the apple of our eye and other oils such as rapeseed oil and coconut oil are giving a tough fight.

But for those of you who are fascinated by the politics of oil must have noticed that the tables are turning and that loathed lard is making a come back. This BBC food programme on fat is a good listen. Three things that I have taken from it are as follows.

  • All oil becomes toxic when heated to high temperatures. Animal fats are most stable and become less toxic but sunflower oil and corn oil are the worst culprits.
  • A good rule of thumb to figure out whether an oil is good for you or not is to try the oil raw. If it does not taste good then it is probably not good for you.
  • Animal fat is good for your brain so remember to use it. I for one is looking forward to these drippings.

Note to self – Moderation is key and  avoid the smoking point.

And if you are looking for something special to roast your potatoes but will not break your bank then do use mustard oil. As a Bengali I will say that won’t I.But now I have the pundits such as the Felicity Cloake to back me.


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