Garlic is one of the most popularly used vegetable in the Indian cuisine. It is called as Lassan or Lahsun in Hindi. Botanical name of garlic is Allium sativum Linn and belongs to the Lilliaceae family and its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. This vegetable is called by several names in different parts of India as per their regional language. Garlic is used throughout the globe for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Garlic is cultivated in most parts of India especially in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Bihar being the premium producers of garlic in India. Garlic has various uses and widely used for culinary purposes all over the world. It is used as condiment in various food items in Indian and Asian cuisines. It is mainly used for preparing chutneys, pickles, dips and curry powder, adding in curries, meat preparations, sauces or ketchups. The raw garlic is used in making of garlic powder, garlic salt, garlic vinegar, garlic bread etc. Garlic rasam is a very popular dish prepared in southern India and said to be very good for flatulence.
Garlic is widely cultivated in warm and mild climates throughout India. It is quite easy to cultivate garlic, as the plant can be grown year-round. Garlic is a bulbous perennial plant having narrow flat leaves. The plant bears small white flowers and bulbils and the bulb comprises 6 to 30 smaller bulblets called cloves. The bulb remains surrounded by a thin white or pinkish papery sheath. Garlic has a stronger flavor in comparison to onion. Garlic requires well-drained, moderately clayey and argillaceous soil and a high elevation (900 to 1200 meters) to grow properly. It also requires a cool moist period during its growth and a relatively dry period during the maturing of crop. Normally, garlic takes about 4 to 5 months to mature. It is grown as a late season irrigated crop.
Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates. In cold climates, cloves are planted in the ground in the fall, about six weeks before the soil freezes and harvested in late spring. Garlic plants can be grown close together, leaving enough room for the bulbs to mature, and are easily grown in containers of sufficient depth. When selecting garlic for planting, it is important to pick large heads to separate cloves from. This plant’s bulb is the most commonly used part and is divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. The cloves are used for consumption (raw or cooked), or for medicinal purposes, and have a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking.
India is one of the major exporters of garlic bulbs, dehydrated garlic, garlic powder and garlic oil, etc. all over the world. The main harvesting season of garlic in India is the months of December to January and the marketing season is during the months of February to March. India mainly exports garlic to the countries like Sri Lanka, USA, UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Garlic is grown globally where China is the largest producer of garlic, with approximately 10.5 million tonnes (23 billion pounds) annually, accounting for over 77% of world output. India (4.1%) and South Korea (2%) follow, with Russia (1.6%) in fourth place and the United States (where garlic is grown primarily as a cash crop in every state except for Alaska) in fifth place (1.4%). This leaves 16% of global garlic production in countries that each produces less than 2% of global output.
According to the traditional Indian Ayurveda, garlic is one of the most effective antimicrobial herbs and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and antiseptic properties. It also is carminative and gastric stimulant. It can aid in digestion and absorption of food and is also given in flatulence. In modern Allopathic treatment, garlic is used in a number of patented medicines and other preparations. The active principle in garlic is an antibiotic named allicin. Garlic is used in treatment of diseases like running cold, saliva formation, chronic bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, whooping cough, bronchitic asthma, influenza, chronic diarrhea, pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatism, impotence, etc. It can also fight infection, reduce cholesterol, protect against heat diseases and stroke, control diabetes, and prevent cancer.
Garlic is a wonderful seasoning (ginger garlic paste) to add aroma, taste, and nutrition to your dishes. It is usually recommended using raw chopped or pressed garlic in many of the dishes. It is best to add it towards the end of the cooking process to retain the maximum amount of flavor and nutrition. Garlic taste excellent when applied to breads which creates a variety to classic dishes such as garlic bread, garlic toast, bruschetta, crostini and canapé.
Native to central Asia over 5000 years, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Ancient Egyptians seem to have been the first to cultivate this plant that played an important role in their culture. Garlic was not only bestowed with sacred qualities and placed in the tomb of Pharaohs, but it was given to the slaves that built the Pyramids to enhance their endurance and strength. Garlic was introduced into various regions throughout the globe by travellers and explorers. By the 6th century BC, garlic was known in both China and India, the latter country using it for therapeutic purposes.
Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease (including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure) and cancer. Garlic is used to prevent certain types of cancer, including stomach and colon cancers. Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels. Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts lower blood homocysteine levels and has shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus.
Additionally, garlic is an excellent source of manganese. It is also a very good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. In addition, garlic is a good source of protein and thiamin (vitamin B1) as well as the minerals phosphorus, selenium, calcium, potassium, and copper.
The nutritional values per 100 g of raw garlic are:
Energy: 623kJ (149 kcal)
Dietary fiber: 2.1g