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The bouquet of garlic

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My kitchen was smelling this past week. I'd been cooking quite a bit with strong-smelling food items for a newspaper article I was writing on dishes made with such ingredients and features recipes for lentils with garlic chips and salt fish croquettes.
My fingers smelled of garlic and some of the salt fish smell hung about in the kitchen, but when that dissipated, there was another smell that I couldn't place. I had also cooked some dishes with chicken livers and I was sure the offal was the cause. Unlike the salt fish, which was strong but not offensive, this smell wasn't pleasant. Not completely horrendous, but it still caused my nose to twitch. I vowed never to cook chicken livers again.
And then last night, as I was moving some mess from one side of the kitchen counter to another area, I discovered the real source of the smell. It was a tub of sourdough leaven that I had forgotten about. I won't go into how it looked; suffice it to say, it was nasty. The container along with its contents were duly discarded.
Garlic, as I said in the article, is probably used in every cuisine in the world, and unless we are allergic to it or its smell, or if our beliefs prohibit its consumption, it's hard to imagine cooking without garlic.
In November 2010, I had the pleasure of tasting the extraordinary Lebanese charcoal-grilled chicken at Al-Jannah in Sydney. The chicken is served with a garlic sauce, which I really loved. Since then, I have made that sauce several times using various recipes and methods. Basically, the sauce blends together raw garlic, salt, oil and lemon juice, and sometimes egg white and water are also added. From the picture above, it doesn't look very intimidating, but I assure you it has a good kick! And it gets more intense a day or two later.
I like the recipe at thefoodblog as it produces a sauce that's good enough for me (I doubt I'll ever be able to get it exactly right) and a yield that's just nice for half a chicken and the two people eating it. The blogger recommends using a normal blender and I have done it that way before, but the machine didn't pulverise just five cloves of garlic very well. So I tried it with an immersion/stick blender and that works for me. I take no credit for the recipe though – it is from thefoodblog.
Based on the recipe at thefoodblog

Toum is a Lebanese dish. Here are a few Malaysian ones.

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