Cook's Hideout: Garlic - Mistress of Spices

June 03, 2006

Garlic - Mistress of Spices

Mythili of Vindu is hosting Mistress of Spice event that showcases condiments and spices. I am doing a round up on the most widely used spice in the world “Garlic”.

Garlic/ Vellulli (telugu)/ Lahsun (hindi)/ Poondu (tamil)/ Bellulli (kannada) is fondly known as “the stinking-rose”. Allium Sativum is the botanical name of this perennial plant and is a member of the onion family. But it differs from onions in form as well as taste. Instead of one large bulb, garlic produces a dozen or so small ones called cloves, surrounded by a thin, papery skin.

Growing Garlic:

Garlic does not grow in the wild, and since true seeds are not produced by the garlic plant; cloves of the bulb are used for propagation. Of the 700 species of genus Allium, many are native to Central Asia.

Garlic is easy to grow and very hardy, but it performs best in milder and dry climates. Garlic is planted in the fall (in cold regions) or early spring for best development before the summer harvest season. Ample and consistent water is needed for the first five months of growth, as well as full sun. This site has information for growing garlic.

Garlic Flower

Part of the Plant:

The part of the plant that is most often consumed is an underground storage structure called a head. A head of garlic is composed of a dozen or more discrete cloves, each of which is a botanical bulb, an underground structure comprised of thickened leaf bases. The above-ground portions of the garlic plant are also sometimes consumed, particularly while immature and tender.

Kitchen Uses:

Garlic is most often used as a flavoring agent but can also be eaten as a vegetable. It is used to flavor many foods, such as salad dressings, vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, vegetables, soups, and stews.

Green garlic is garlic that is harvested when it is immature. It has a definite garlic flavor without the bite of mature garlic. It can be eaten fresh like scallions or green onions but it can also be used in other foods the same as mature garlic.

Garlic is used in some form of the other in all of the world’s cuisines. Curiously enough, Northern Europeans seem to be the only ones who look on it with suspicion because of its strong smell, which is sometimes felt unpleasant.

Medicinal Uses:

Garlic is quite a wonderful little bulb with a reputation in folklore for preventing everything from the common cold and flu to the Plague! Garlic is used to treat flu, bronchitis and it's also an antiseptic. Garlic also helps to clear fat accumulations from the blood vessels, lower cholesterol and protect against bacterial and viral infections. It also treats athlete's foot, bug bites, earache, leukemia, malaria, and toothache.

Studies have shown garlic can suppress the growth of tumors, and is a potent antioxidant good for cardiovascular health.


  • Intensity of flavor depends on how garlic is prepared. Whole & sliced cloves have milder flavors when compared to smashed or minced cloves. Smaller the clove is chopped greater is the flavor.
  • Place garlic cloves in the microwave for 15 seconds and the skins should peel off easily.
  • Add garlic flavor to your salad by cutting a raw garlic clove in half and rubbing the inside of your bowl with the cut edge of the clove.
  • Don't throw out sprouting garlic. Instead, plant the cloves fairly close together in a pot or in the garden (if your climate is suitable at the time). The new shoots that appear will have a mild garlic flavor and can be used in the same manner as regular chives.
  • To remove the garlic odor from your hands after working with garlic, wash hands thoroughly and then use some type of stainless steel device that can be worked over and around the areas affected on fingers or hands.


  1. Hi Pavani,
    While going through the regular blog’ reading somehow I got a glimpse of name like mine.
    The reason for leaving this comment is nothing else other than common name.
    I guess you are from A.P..Pavani name is quite common in A. P., 2 –3 years back I never ever met any one with same name & people didn’t say they know someone with this name. Then I come to this name is quite popular there. I got amazed.
    Well, you have very nice Indian cook blog, keep cooking (blogging) a new dish everyday.

  2. That's a nice post about Garlic. Very well written. Thanks for participating in MoS.

  3. Hi Paavani,
    Yes. I'm from A.P.
    I have had completely different experience with my name. There were so many of them with my name in school and college, that people had to call us Tall Pavani and Short Pavani. But when I came to US, people including my husband had never heard my name and thought I was a guy.
    Thank you for visiting.

  4. Hi Mythili,
    Thank you for hosting a very interesting blog event. Hope to have even more interesting ones coming in the future.

  5. well, By chance or whatever people never got confused by name of a guy. But yes, I had/have been always called by wrong or misspelled names.

  6. Nice post on garlic, Pavani. The tips are good and useful indeed!!

  7. Great info. Thanx for sharing.

  8. Hi Pavani,

    Loved your photo of garlic bulb with long stem attached. Came in from Mythili's round-up... will have to bookmark and read some more :)

    Best wishes.


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