Black garlic: Know how the fermented ingredient can refine your palate along with boosting your health

Garlic, an essential ingredient in many dishes, has the power to add a burst of flavour but many shy away as the strong smell can cause bad breath. What if you can keep all the goodness of garlic while not having to deal with the smell? Well, that is certainly possible by using black garlic.

The concept

Black garlic is the result of a process of aging and fermentation that gives garlic an extra boost of flavour and is also good for you. Several countries in Asia such as Thailand, South Korea and Japan have been using black garlic for centuries.

Chef Ashay Dhopatkar, F&B consultant, Whiz Cafe, MQDC India, said, “Black garlic, with it medicinal and flavoured benefits is a commonly used ingredient in Asian food which has been used for centuries. It is also used in European cuisine. It is made by heating the aged bulbs of regular garlic over a few weeks, where it requires regulated temperature and humidity to achieve its sticky consistency.”

Garlic pods are aged under specialised conditions of temperature, heat and humidity for 15 to 90 days.

“There are no additives added nor is the garlic burnt, rather it is the enzymes that break down sugar, caramelising it which reduces the sharpness and make the cloves turn black and develop a sticky texture,” says Eliyaz, executive sous chef, The Leela Bhartiya City Bengaluru.

Cooking techniques

Black garlic has a subtle flavour of baked garlic, coming from the long slow heat it is subjected to, along with a slight umami tang. It could go well with almost all food like poultry, lamb and fish. Also, it can easily be incorporated in sauces as well as salads and makes for a neat garnish to add a hint of garlicky tang. This is a very versatile ingredient and all the parts of the aged garlic can be used including the teared off cover of garlic clove.

Suresh Hinduja, founder Gourmetindia.com and consulting chef, says black garlic is mostly used in fancy restaurants across the globe and is a rage in high-end gourmet circles.

“Black garlic is a modified form of the regular garlic after it has undergone very low-temperature baking spread over several days. The process activates the sugars and caramelises the cloves to a dark, almost black colour. At this stage, the garlic tastes almost sweet and the sharpness is tamed down. Use it wherever you require a milder flavour. I use it in dal where the exotic flavour becomes evident. Use it whole for its exotic looks and aroma. Do not cook it or expose it to high heat or the aroma will dissipate,” says Hinduja.

Health factor

Black garlic reduces inflammations and lowers cholesterol levels. Chef Neeraj Tyagi, director of Culinary, Pullman – Novotel New Delhi Aerocity, said, “It contains high antioxidants, is a good source of calories, protein, fibre, iron, vitamin C and calcium, balances blood sugar, boosts heart health, prevents cancer and improves brain health.”

It is also a good source of calories, protein, fibre, iron, vitamin C and calcium. So, the next time you are looking to add a zing to your meal try black garlic.

Cured mackerel, grilled lettuce, grapefruit, black garlic, koji berry

Ingredients

• Mackerel fillet – 1 no - cure it with salt, lemon and olive oil for 15 mins

• Wedge of iceberg lettuce – Oil it and grill with seasoning

• Grapefruit – Wedges to be taken out and kept fresh

• Koji berry – Soak it in warm water and use it

• Fragrant herbs and edible paired flowers for garnish

• Black garlic – Slice it and use straight

Method

Chargrill the lettuce sprinkling a little olive oil and seasoning, assemble all the ingredients over top of the lettuce and enjoy the refreshing flavours.

Secret Tip – Store black garlic in an airtight food grade container, preferably at room temperature.

(Courtesy: Eliyaz, executive sous chef, The Leela Bhartiya City Bengaluru)

The Black List

  • Black-coloured food and ingredients are the new flavours of the season which has seen a renewed interest for an improved diet and even beauty.

  • Black seed oil made from nigella seeds (or kalonji) is now finding favour with hair oil brands. Kalonji has always been part of the famed ‘panch phoron’ mix and is a vitamin-rich food.

Black garlic: Know how the fermented ingredient can refine your palate along with boosting your health
  • Black rice from the North East is also making waves for all the right reasons, considering its potent antioxidant properties. The nutrient-dense rice variant has the plant compound anthocyanin that is anti-inflammatory and helps protect against many chronic health issues.

  • Black mushrooms are a variant of the much-loved mushroom that is good for the liver and boost gut health while reducing cholesterol as it is packed with fibre. This wild mushroom has a distinct chewy texture and is said to have immune-enhancing and antimicrobial properties, much needed for the times we live in.

  • Black lentils also add protein to your diet. The legumes are not just a great source of dietary fibre but also contain isoflavones, minerals and phosphorus.

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