This week, Our Man Sietsema shares his love of mustard oil, which he laps up in Jackson Heights despite the warning on the label that says “for external use only.” We happen to share his enthusiasm for the stuff, though we’re not ingesting a fraction as much as he seems to be.
Sietsema gets his fill at Deshi, a Bangladeshi restaurant where the vartas rule:
The best of these highly spiced vegetarian side dishes is tomato varta ($5.99), an altogether novel use of an overworked vegetable. Fresh tomatoes are smashed with scallions and cilantro, then modestly dressed with mustard oil. A similar fate awaits eggplant in begon varta, in which mustard oil plays an even more prominent roll. “This smells like furniture polish,” said Francis, wrinkling up his nose, referring to another of mustard oil’s many uses.
If you want to try this at home, head to Foods of India for the magical oil.
75-18 37th Avenue
Foods of India
121 Lexington Avenue