I thought of writing about flavoured oils today because we hear of it in very few recipes, but it actually has an immense potential that most of us don’t know. We know herbs, extracts and spices add flavour to our food.
I enjoy all types of cuisines but home cooked meals are usually typical Indian food with that rich aroma and flavour of spices. The spiciness and mix of flavours might be an intense experience for a foreigner but that is what we have grown up with and that is what makes Indian cuisine one of the most likeable ones around.
I am a foodie and though I am not a person who would love to spent most of the time in kitchen, I do love experimenting in what I cook for my family. My menu is mostly kid oriented and with the very few items they actually like to eat, our food seems to suck for us grownups as I have to minimise the spicy content. I needed to come up with something that would make up for the lack of of spiciness in my food. That’s how I came across flavoured oils.
I was familiar with ‘flavoured’ Hair Oil made with a lot of herbs common among older generations in Kerala (my mother-in-law is an expert in it and this is clearly reflected in her long thick hair eventhough she is 70+!!). It was made by heating coconut oil and adding tulsi (Ocimum sanctum – a sacred plant in India with great medicinal values), aloe vera, hibiscus, henna, neem leaves and few pepper pods which was then massaged into the hair and scalp.
But this flavoured cooking oil was new to me. Soon I realised what an easy technique it was. We usually use oil for cooking, but just imagine if that very oil was flavoured, how immensely would it be incorporated in the food we cook. There is no hassle of adding each spice one by one and the outcome is so delicious! These can be used for marinades, dressing salads or as dips too.
How to make flavoured oils:
Flavoured Oils can be made with spices, herbs and even with nuts and citrus.
Spice options – pepper, cloves, cardamom or mustard
- Use olive oil, peanut oil or sunflower oil.
- Take two tablespoons of the ingredient for 250 ml of oil.
- Heat the oil and add the spices and let it stay on the stove for few minutes.
- Strain it into a bottle after it has fully cooled.
The main thing to remember is this flavoured oil has to be stored in the refrigerator so that it can stay for at least a month.
Herb options – cilantro, basil or mint
- Wash the herbs thoroughly.
- The herbs need to be boiled in water and then kept under cold running water.
- This is then blended with the oil.
- Heat this for a few minutes.
- Cool it and strain it into bottle
Keep in mind that you want to infuse all the flavour into your oil and so the herbs have to be fresh.
- Peel the garlic and wash it well.
- Then roast it till it becomes light brown and then heat with the oil. Cool this down before bottling.
- It’s best to not strain this.
With flavoured oils in your refrigerator, you can always come up with bright ideas of cooking something easy yet flavourful for your family.
Note: In many parts of the world, flavoured oils are gifted to friends and family!! Making something in your kitchen which enhances the flavours in another’s kitchen is a true gesture of appreciation and love from the bottom of one’s heart!!!