Oil has no taste; still, people have a strong view that it gives a taste. Why? Dr. Chhajer asked a housewife “why do you add oil” after she agreed that it has no taste only the spices, onions, and tomatoes have a taste. She said, “without oil how will we get the spices fried/cooked?” Dr. Chhajer asked her “who told you that oil is a must for frying spices?” After thinking a few minutes she replied “my mother”. Then who told your mother? Her mother….. Ultimately she agreed that it has come over generations and has become a usual procedure.
Then Dr. Chhajer explained to her that the maid at my home told Dr. Chhajer she was cooking/frying spices with water as they do not have money to buy oil. She also told Dr. Chhajer that almost all her neighbors at her slum cook vegetable with water, because of a lack of money to buy oil. Dr. Chhajer also informed the housewife that Dr. Chhajer’s maid said once “why rich people buy oil when they get free water to fry the spices?”
When she joined Dr. Chhajer’s heart care camp and had Saaol’s Zero Oil Lunch and joined the cooking demonstration she was convinced that there is no difference in the taste – whether one cooks with water or oil.
But there are a huge number of households where people do not know that spices can be cooked without oil as well. So, they still believe that Zero oil cooking is like boiling the vegetables and eating them – no taste will be there.
People who were more educated and health aware tried to reduce the intake of oils, but much of the population did not know about the ill effects of oil. The oil companies came up with a variety of oils and kept on dubiously claiming that their oil is good for health or better than other oils. Some of them conspired with the doctors and promoted their brand of oil. The net result was that the use of oil kept on increasing.
When some heart patients go to the doctors and are asked to cut down oil – some of them reduce the quantity, change the brand of oil but some of them stop the intake of oils completely. The last group starts eating boiled food, vegetables. They stop all spices as they had one understanding – that “zero oil means boiled food”
This is where Saaol stepped in. When we realized that oil has no taste and during cooking. If we avoid it completely we need to have another cooking medium to season the spices. We worked on the possible methods that the taste is not compromised but the oil is not added. Our experiments became successful as we realized oil can be easily replaced by water. It took a few years but gradually we could make equally tasteful curries without oil. We were able to create more than 1000 recipes over the years. You should visit Saaol’s YouTube channel and see the way we cook vegetables with water.
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