Gaga over Garlic! Garlic has been valued throughout history for its medicinal properties. It is a remedy for virtually every illness. Some say it's an aphrodisiac. Egyptians, including Tutankhamen, were buried with garlic bulbs in their tombs. Herbal specialists have been using garlic since 1500 BC. People in China, Greece, Egypt, Sumeria, and Mesopotamia used lots of garlic in their diet Khnoum Khoufouf, the builder of one of the oldest pyramids (4500 BC) was among the first to recognise the virtues of garlic, and Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended garlic for infectious diseases, intestinal disorders, asthma and bronchial congestion. But it is equally good for heart and helps people with liver, piles and gall-bladder-related problems. Garlic is also good for your hair and eyes and is an appetiser of sorts. It even has antiseptic properties and aids digestion. It is also good for treating various forms of diarrhoea and colitis. Garlic is one of the most effective remedies for lowering blood pressure. Garlic also stimulates circulation. It is also used for skin disorders like pimples, acne, etc. Raw garlic applied on pimples gives results almost instantaneously. For years the French and the Italians have trusted garlic to give their cooking a distinctive flavour. It is now being used in a big way in Indian, Middle-Eastern, Chinese and Thai cuisine. Here are three Bengali recipes using garlic. Try them.

MACHER RASUN JHAL

Take 250 gms of Betki, Tangra, Gurjali or Koi. Clean and wash, rub turmeric powder and a little salt. Heat mustard oil in a pan and fry the fish one by one. Drain and reserve. Make a paste with 20 gms of garlic, one inch piece of ginger and two green chillies. Keep it aside and make a separate paste with one large onion and set aside. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add a little more if needed. Throw in one or two green chillies (optional) and fry the garlic paste till light brown. Add half a teaspoon turmeric powder and mix well. Add the fish, fold in well with the masala. Squeeze the juice out of the onion paste and add it to the fish in the pan. Season with salt and sugar. Add a little water and remove from the pan when the fish is cooked. Serve hot with steamed rice.

RASUN CHINGRI PARATHA

Take 250 gms of shrimp. Shell and wash properly. Heat two tablespoons of refined oil in a pan and add one large onion, very finally chopped, two tablespoons finely chopped garlic and fry for sometime. Add one teaspoon finely chopped green chillies and the shrimp. Add salt to taste and a little sugar. Remove when the shrimps are red and cooked. Meanwhile make a dough with 250 gms flour and divide into eight balls roll into rotis. Spread a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and put the roti. Pour a little beaten egg on the paratha and spread the shrimp mixture on that. Fold the paratha into half and fry both sides very well with little oil. Make the other parathas in the same way. Serve hot with tomato sauce.

ALOO RASUN

Take three large new potatoes. Wash and slice them finely. Marinate the potato slices with two tablespoon garlic paste and one teaspoon green chilli paste for at least an hour. Drain the excess water and heat oil in a pan. Deep fry the potatoes. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.Sprinkle a little salt and chat masala before serving. Serve hot.

Credits: This article was written by Purabi Dasgupta and published in the Jan 2000 Statesman Online

Sutapa Ray