Health nuts, no matter how much you hate oil, you have to admit that it makes food taste delicious! It has numerous health benefits, one of which is acting like a vehicle for many fat-soluble vitamins. In India, we use a variety of cooking oils for different culinary purposes. Each type of cooking oil has its own smoke point, which makes it ideal for a specific culinary use. But some are delicate and cannot take high temperatures, while others are quite resilient. Two experts help you breakdown the best uses of these oils according to their smoke points.
Rice bran oil has a high smoke point of 254°C. This means, it can withstand high temperatures and can be used for both deep frying and sautéing. Dietician Geeta Shenoy recommends the oil for its many nutritional benefits and versatility. Orzynol in the oil is also known to lower cholesterol in the blood.
Sesame oil has a smoke point of 210 °C and used widely in the South Indian households for pickling and cooking. Nutrition expert Dr Seema Gulati says, “It is high in Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s great for sautéing.” Since sesame oil is quite fragrant, it can also be drizzled on food for enhancing the flavour.
Coconut oil does not have a very high smoke point (171°C) so heating the oil at high temperatures would be a bad idea. It is widely used in the South for a variety of cooking purposes. Dietician Shenoy says, “We can use it for sautéing and stir frying.” She however warns against using the cold pressed coconut oil for deep frying.
Mustard oil has a golden, yellow hue and a distinct flavour. It has a high smoke point (254°C), which makes it great for deep frying, cooking, sautéing and stir frying. In India, mustard oil serves as a base for many pickles. “It a good choice for cooking since it has an excellent fatty acid composition,” says Dr Gulati.
Olive oil (207°C) is what we got when the health world fell in love with the Mediterranean diet. But Dr Gulati warns against this fixation since what the stores stock in the name of olive oil is the double compressed version. “Use virgin olive oil, which is delicate, for salad dressings. But don’t use it for cooking Indian dishes,” says Dr Gulati.
Peanut oil (232°C) is widely used in Indian states like Maharashtra for cooking. Dr Gulati says that its high smoke point makes it a versatile oil, and it can be used for a wide variety of uses like, sautéing, deep frying and stir frying.