Cooking without oil in any Indian kitchen is simply impossible. The awareness about healthy cooking is increasing day by day and has also become a vital part of our lifestyle. However, the choice of the right kind of cooking oil is very vital. It not only makes a major impact on the nutritional value of the cuisine but also the aroma and taste. With endless choices in the supermarket shelves, labeled as best oil for cooking, it’s hard to choose which one to buy.
Indian food is well known for its unique taste and diversity. Each culture has its own set of delicacies and cooking style. Conscious efforts are being made every day to eat healthy and stay fit. There are many different types of myths around the use of cooking oils. Thanks to advertisement gimmicks and paid media news, most of us are still using refined oils as they are cheaper. But the side effects of these refined oils is leading to many diseases and unhealthy lifestyle.
As healthy alternative to refined oils, cold pressed cooking oils are gaining prominence day by day. In this review article we discussed on best oil for Indian cooking . We discussed the sources and types of the major cooking oils used. Then we put our Best Cooking Oil in India. We end up with some Frequently Searched Questions on edible oils in India. You can also read Best Basmati Rice Online in India.
Sources for Cooking Oil used in India
From ancient times oils are being extracted from plants round the world. Vegetable oils were used mostly for cooking and as lamp-oil. The specific choice of edible oil in every region is based upon traditional eating and cooking habits which basically depend on local availability, local soils and the country’s diverse climate. The different sources of Indian cooking oils can be classified broadly under the following categories:
Major Types of Cooking Oil used in India
In Indian households, distinct oils are used for cooking and food preparation in each region. Different cultures eat differently. Most of Indian cooking is done on high smoking point and thus mustard oil is preferred in northern and eastern parts of the country. Groundnut and sesame oils are predominant in central India, including Gujarat and Rajasthan. In southern Indian states coconut oil is preferred, especially in Kerala, the land of coconuts. However, the cold pressed oils, known as Kachi Ghani oil / Chekku / Kolhu oil, are considered as the best oil for cooking in India.
Mustard oil has been an age old ingredient for preparing Indian delicacies. Cold pressed mustard oil is extracted from mustard seeds using wooden churner and is the oil of our culture from ancient times. With high smoking point it is one of the best oils for cooking. Sarson ka tel, as it is commonly known, is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) which benefits cardiovascular health. This oil is a common diet staple in places like North India, North-East India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Along with coconut oil, cold pressed Sesame Oil is one of the oldest oils used in India. Extracted from sesame seeds, it is also known as gingelly or til ka tel. For the ages sesame oils has not only played an important role in south Asian delicacies, but also for medicinal values too. Being a storehouse of many nutrients, this oil is one of the base products in over 90% Ayurvedic oil treatments. The health benefits of black sesame oil are countless. That includes stronger bone growth, infant health boosters, maintaining good heart and dental health.
Groundnut oil is a variety of vegetable oil that has been used in India since generations. Extracted from fresh unroasted peanuts this oil is much popular in central and parts of south India. This cooking oil contains a good amount of antioxidants and a whole lot of vital nutrients making them more beneficial for health. With slightly “nutty” flavor and taste ground nut oil adds great aroma and taste to your food. Moreover, this oil is ideal for deep frying and high temperature cooking due to its high smoke point.
Celebrated as a symbol of prosperity, coconut is the tree of thousand uses. Majorly grown in tropical regions they are found in abundance in the South Indian states and coastal regions. Extracted from the inner flesh of the fruit, coconut oil in India has several other applications apart from being used as cooking medium. Cold pressed coconut oil imparts smooth flavor and aroma to the food. However, refined coconut oil (RBD) undergoes bleaching and deodorizing process to neutralize the smell and taste of the cooking oil.
Olive oil is comparatively a new entrant in the Indian household. This wonder oil from the Mediterranean is slowly making inroads into the Indian culinary circuit. Olive oil in India is gradually gaining popularity among the millennial, the fitness freaks and most of the fitness gurus. Ideal for cooking continental dishes, dressings, preparation of salads etc. this oil has low smoke point. As a result, olive oil is not an ideal choice for Indian high smoke cooking.
Best Cooking Oil in India : Northern & Eastern Region
The spicy and creamy gravies are common in everyday food in north and eastern parts of the country. With Central Asian influences in the cuisines, vegetable oils like sunflower oil and mustard oil are majorly used for food preparation in these regions.
Best Mustard Oil in India : Cold Pressed Oil
As a perfect choice for cooking Indian delicacies, Mustard oil or Sarson ka tel has become an integral part of Indian lifestyle. With a distinctive and rather pungent taste, it stimulates the appetite and cannot be replaced in the Indian kitchen. The unique taste and aroma of this oil (Kachi Ghani oil) makes it favorite for frying, seasoning and tempering in Northern and Eastern India. Additionally, as mentioned in Ayurveda, body massage with mustard oil improves blood circulation, skin texture and releases muscular tension.
Believed to have miraculous health benefits, mustard oil is used as a remedy to treat cold, boost immunity, nourishes skin, encourage hair growth, so on and so forth. Being a natural source for Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) this oil is good for the health of our heart. Mustard oil helps in boosting blood circulation as it lowers bad cholesterol in the body. Often recommended as a home remedy for cough and cold, best mustard oil has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Cold pressed mustard oil is the best edible oil as it retains healthy antioxidants in them. These antioxidants are otherwise damaged by being exposed to excessive heat in extraction machines. The cold pressed oil should not be heated too much for deep frying as the unsaturated fats may break down making them unsafe for consumption. The overall nutritional benefits of mustard oil scores well with the much hyped olive oil at one-sixth the cost. Cold pressed mustard oil will be the wisest health investment you can make for your family.
Best Cooking Oil in India : Central Region
The deliciously delectable cuisines of central India will surely tempt your taste buds. The famous poha, palak puri, kebab, jalebi are few of the typical dishes of this region. As cooking medium groundnut oil, sesame oil are more common here.
Best Groundnut Oil in India : Cold Pressed Oil
Mostly grown in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, India is the second largest producer of groundnuts globally. The oil extracted from organically grown peanuts using cold / wooden pressing restores the wholesome benefit of actual groundnut oil. A powerhouse of health benefits, ground nut oil reduces heart disease risk and lowers blood sugar. Following the traditional extraction method, cold pressed ground nut oils are much beneficial than filtered groundnut oil online.
Anveshan Wood Pressed Groundnut oil are 100% natural and do not have any chemicals or preservatives. Extracted purely by traditional wood press technique, each 100 g contains greater percentage of MUFA (39%) and PUFA (42%). Free from cholesterol, its high smoke point makes it perfect for deep frying and stir-frying. Its uses go beyond the kitchen as you can apply this oil for skin or scalp massage.
A healthier substitute for refined oils Daana Organic Cold Pressed Groundnut oil is suited for anything from sautéing to deep frying. With its non-intrusive taste this oil imparts a mild nutty flavor to your dishes. This purely handcrafted oil is beneficial against premature ageing and keeps your skin wrinkle free. However, the groundnut oil price for cold pressed oils will rip your pocket much deeper than refined oils.
Best Sesame Oil in India : Cold Pressed Oil
Marked as a symbol of prosperity and health in ancient folklore, Sesame oil has multiple usages apart from cooking. For the ages this oil has been a potent source of vitamin E, Vitamin B6 and other nutrients like magnesium, zinc, calcium, copper, and iron. As a result it provides nourishment and protection for hair and detoxifies damaged skin. Sesame oil can be termed as the Indian counterpart of Olive Oil. This oil is the best cooking oil for high cholesterol in India.
Enjoy appetizing meals everyday with Vedaka Cold pressed Sesame Oil, extracted from premium quality sesame seeds. With no adulteration, it is a source of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) that helps to healthy heart and normal cholesterol levels. Regular use of this oil enhances blood circulations and maintains your blood pressure. With no sugar content, this oil is suitable for salad dressings and use in deep frying and sautéing. It is one of the best sesame oil in India.
Cold pressed gingelly oil is a gift of nature with so many material and spiritual benefits. Cold pressed / Wood pressed sesame oil is extracted from seeds by mere crushing without overheating. With no use of chemicals, no preservatives and no adulteration this oil promises fantastic taste and pleasant aroma. This natural and healthy oil is ideal for your culinary activities, salad dressing and even hair and body massage.
Best Cooking Oil in India : South Region
Coconut is native to the five southern states of India. Some of the finest traditional cuisine in the country hails from this part. The easy availability of coconut makes its oil as the fore runner in these states. Vegetable oil like sunflower oil is also used.
Best Coconut Oil in India : Cold Pressed Oil
Cold pressed coconut oil is nature’s blessing for a healthy life. When extracted without application of heat this oil has a mild coconut taste and smell. If consumed regularly, coconut oil acts as an immunity booster and provides multiple health benefits. With antimicrobial properties, coconut oil protects the heart, controls blood pressure, enhances digestive process and prevents cancer cells. It helps to digest food faster and aids you in managing your weight.
Known as Chekku in Tamil Nadu, the cold pressed coconut oil preserves all the nutrients in the oil without any added preservatives. An ideal replacement for unhealthy refined oils, your dishes will taste much better and healthy when cooked with this oil. This oil has been found to be effective in weight loss and cardiovascular disease, apart from other health benefits. Due to its high fiber and nutritional contents cold pressed coconut oil is considered as very healthy cooking medium.
Extra virgin coconut oil is cold pressed without any application of heat to preserve its virgin aroma, composition and vital nutrients. In this oil all the natural goodness of the coconut remains untouched by any artificial human process. Ideal for cooking, baking, frying it can be used for raw, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free diets. Free from Trans fats, cholesterol, lactose or gluten this multipurpose oil can also be used for skin and hair care, baby care, makeup remover, body moisturizer and more.
Best Olive Oil in India : Cold Pressed Oil
Popular in the Italian cuisines, many health freak Indian household are gradually shifting towards virgin olive oil. Mildest of all the oils, it is best for baking and imparting taste and flavor in salads or spaghetti. Olive oil brands in India generally import the oil for their Indian customers. Extra virgin olive oil is extracted from the juice of fresh olives. Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and natural antioxidants it is good for heart, cholesterol and digestive purposes.
Disano Extra Virgin Olive oil is obtained from cold pressing of quality olives to impart a splendid taste and rich aroma. Rich with antioxidants and vitamins this oil is an excellent choice for exotic dressings to suit the diverse taste buds of India. Manufactured and packed in Spain, Disano offers four types of olive oil range for all your cooking needs. It is one of the best cholesterol free oil in India.
Borges Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the best olive oil in India for cooking. This century old brand extracts oil from high quality olives cultivated under the Mediterranean sun. Ideal for dressing and toppings this extra virgin olive oil can act as a substitute for butter or ghee. Free from Trans fat this oil helps in lowering bad cholesterol.
Frequently Searched Questions on Cooking Oils
1) Is Refined Oils bad for health ?
Refining of oils is done to increase the shelf-life and heat stability of the oil. The process of “refining” involves treating the oils at high temperature and addition of chemicals. As a result, this treatment takes away many of the natural nutrients of the oil. The processing done by the refined oil brands are:
- The oil seeds are pressed mechanically or crushed in hammer mills under application of heat.
- The heated substance is passed through a slotted barrel under pressure. This squeezes out the oil.
- Then the oil is filtered and neutralized using caustic soda to remove the free fatty acids.
- It is then treated with bleaching agents to remove the off-colored materials in the oil.
- In the final step, pressurize steam at extremely high temperature is passed to obtain odorless, tasteless final product.
2) What is the difference between MUFA and PUFA?
All cooking oils contain three different types of fatty acids in varied proportions. These are Monounsaturated Fatty Acid (MUFA), Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA), and saturated fats. Fats are beneficial as they provide energy, protects our organs, tissues and bones. Coconut oil contains predominantly 92% of saturated fat.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA)
Technically, MUFA are fat molecules with one Carbon-Carbon double bond in the fatty acid chain while the other carbon atoms are single bonds. Thus, they have higher melting points. In simple terms, oils with higher percentage of MUFA remain liquid at room temperature and become semi-solid or solid when chilled. Olive oil has 77%, groundnut has 49% whereas sesame oil has 40% of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA)
On the other hand, PUFA are fat molecules with two or more Carbon-Carbon double bonds in the fatty acid chain. As a result, they have comparatively lower melting points. These oils are generally liquid at room temperature and solidify when chilled. Sunflower oil contains 69%, sesame oil has 46% while groundnut oil has 33% of PUFA. Thus, cooking oils with higher percentage of MUFA are considered healthier than those with high PUFA.
3) What is Smoke Point for cooking oil?
Smoke point is the temperature at which the cooking oil starts to burn and smoke. It varies from one type of oil to other. It indicates the oil’s resistance to heat beyond which the compounds in the oil break down. If overheated beyond its smoke point the oil imparts a burnt flavor to the food. Refined oils generally have higher smoke point, as the refinement process removes impurities and free fatty acids. Unrefined oils generally have lower smoke points and are better for cooking at low temperatures.
Cooking oil is such an ingredient that cannot be replaced in the Indian kitchen. A “must have” in the pantry, edible oils in India mainly depend on the region and its food habits. As most of Indian cooking is done on high smoking point, the choice of the right kind of cooking oil is very vital. In this era of advertisement gimmicks most cooking oils found on the grocery store aisles are refined oils. The processing of these refined oils increases their shelf-life but spoils all the natural health benefits.
Cold pressed oils are unrefined oils and thus have pronounced flavors, colors and odor than refined one. These oils are not exposed to high temperatures or harmful chemicals during processing and thus retain the natural nutrients and flavor.
As a health conscious homemaker, you may have had the thought – “which cooking oil is good for health”? Hope this review article on Best Cooking Oil has made it easier to select the best healthy oil for your kitchen.