Mustard oil vs canola oil
We were following an Indian recipe today that called for sauteeing the main ingredient in mustard oil. We didn't have any on hand, but got to thinking, mustard oil is made by pressing mustard seeds, and mustard is a brassica. Canola oil is made by pressing rape seeds, which is also a brassica. Brassicas tend to interbreed a lot.
How different are mustard oils and canola oils? How does one go about substituting one for the other? (The recipe we used called for a large amount of freshly ground mustard seed to be added later, so in the end I guess the flavors would be similar).
This oil has a strong sinus-irritating aroma, like that of horseradish or wasabi, a hot nutty taste, and is often used for cooking in Northern India, eastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh. In north India, it is mainly used in frying fritters. In Nepal and Bengal, it is the traditionally preferred oil for cooking, although nowadays neutral-flavored oils like sunflower oil are also extensively used.
Yes, mustard oil is very pungent, almost peppery, but this property is reduced when it is heated to a high temperature. It still tastes very distinct, though. Canola oil is nearly flavorless and very light.
Sounds like you are making a Bengali recipe.
I second luckyfatima: mustard oil is very different, is moderated in its sinusy pungency by high heat, but remains definitely more full of "character" than canola oil even then. You need to bring mustard oil just up to its smoke point to get the effect that is commonly desired.
As the others have said, in some forms it can be extremely pungent - labeled with something like "for external use only," but in my last try at getting some it was almost as flavorless as canola. Maybe the real pungent stuff went the way of tandoori coloring and is no more (in the US anyway).
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