Palm oil – ‘God’s gift to humanity’, is like crude oil in a tree. Before the discovery of crude oil, just before or after the partition of Africa, the Delta region of the river Niger in West Africa (Bight of Biafra) was referred to as the “Oil belt”. It supplied thousands of ship-loads of Palm oil upon which Cities like Liverpool and Bristol were built.
Considering the culinary use of this anit-oxidant, it is the only vegetable oil that has a balance of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. It actually contains many of the needed Essential Fatty acids, required for effective metabolism of fats. It is the richest source of beta carotene, (carotenoids) – potent anti-oxidants; vitamin A. Fresh Palm oil, as is used in African cooking contains all these. It is a natural medicine! It is a hidden secret that pure vegetable oil, as sold in most retail outlets is got from fractionation of Palm Oil.
It also give the yellow colouration to West Africa’s cuisines as found amongst Africans in the Diaspora. The Africans, who resided initially in Southern India began to use such ingredients as Turmeric and Saffron to replicate this yellow colouration.
This anti-oxidant is also the source of the commercially sold ‘White butter’, branded as ‘Trex’ or known in the spice manufacturing industry as ‘beaded Palm oil’.
Groundnut oil also known as peanut oil, is a flavourful, organic oil derived from groundnut (peanuts), it is reported to have the aroma and taste of its parent legume. In the UK it is known as “groundnut oil”. Peanut oil is most commonly used for frying foods, particularly ‘French fries’ and chicken. It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Corn oil or Maize oil is extracted from the germ of corn (maize). Its main use is in cooking, where its high smoke point makes refined corn oil a valuable frying oil.
Other types of Oils include Groundnut – flavourful; Sunflower, (popular in Europe), Sesame Seed, increasingly available in the middle East) and rarefied butter (Mai-n-shanu) known as Gee in India.
There are other potential sources for quality cooking oils yet to be tapped!