When it comes to cooking, there is one ingredient that we really can’t live without.
Especially when it comes to Mediteranean cuisine!
So, what is this tasty flavour explosion?
Why, it’s garlic, of course.
One of the world’s oldest cultivated plants, garlic has been a key ingredient in Mediterranean cuisines for aeons.
Botanically a vegetable, but widely used as a herb or spice, garlic is a cousin of onions, leeks and chives. You’ll find garlic right at the heart of Lebanese food: it’s a key ingredient in some of our favourite recipes here at Kohkoz.
So, let’s learn a little more about this powerhouse of flavour.
Garlic: The One Ingredient We Can’t Live Without
Garlic: It’s Ancient History
Garlic has some serious history behind it. Egyptian and Indian cultures reference it as early as 5,000 years ago. And, there is also evidence it was used by the Babylonians 4,500 years ago, and in China 2,000 years ago.
Pretty impressive, right?
Truly wild-growing garlic is found only in Central Asia. Previously, garlic grew wild over a much larger region, possibly stretching as far afield as China and India, down into Egypt, and north to the Ukraine. This region where garlic has grown wild is referred to as its “centre of origin”.
Now, its delicious, pungent, savoury note is central to almost all cultures and cuisines of the Mediterranean region. Garlic gives food a special Mediterranean flavour. It’s no wonder it takes centre-stage in Lebanese cuisine, a nation at the heart of garlic’s centre of origin!
With the expansion of empires and modern age emigration, the garlic-love has well and truly spread across the world. It is now embraced by many, many countries and cuisines. But, it’s roots have certainly not been forgotten.
From Wonder-Tonic To Flavour Hero
According to history, garlic is not just about making food delicious. Wherever it is grown and eaten, mythology exists around what else this ingredient can do. There is plenty of superstition that surrounds garlic, from vampire-scaring to bringing good luck. But its most important application (beyond tastiness) has been in medicine. Galen, the Roman Empire’s greatest physician, referred to garlic as the “rustic’s theriac”, or a cure-all.
Ancient Greeks believed in garlic’s performance-enhancing power. During the earliest Olympics in Greece, athletes would eat garlic to increase stamina – perhaps the earliest example of using performance enhancing materials in sports!
Throughout human history, garlic’s medicinal properties have been used as a cure for a vast array of human ailments, thanks to its antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial characteristics.
While we respect ancient wisdom and tradition, we probably won’t be chowing down on a clove of raw garlic before our next marathon. We love garlic for one main reason – flavour!
Try Toum – On Everything!
One of our absolute favourite uses for garlic is Toum! In fact, you can see it showcased in our For the Love of Garlic dip. So, what is toum?
A mainstay of Lebanese cuisine, toum is a rich, punchy emulsion of garlic cloves, salt, lemon juice and oil, all whipped up into a lush, creamy sauce.
Our mothers and grandmothers traditionally crushed the ingredients for toum using a wooden mortar and pestle. While methods may have changed, the essentials have remained the same: fresh New Zealand garlic, lemon, oil and salt are hand-whipped to perfection in our award-winning version of this delicious, garlicky condiment.
Traditionally used as a dip for roast chicken, toum is so versatile that it will invite you to experiment: try it as a sauce, marinade or crushed garlic replacement; use to make delicious garlic bread, add to salad dressings or eat by the spoonful! Yum!
Satisfy Your Garlic Cravings
Toum, or garlic dip, is not the only Kohkoz product that embraces the glory of garlic.
At Kohkoz, we produce authentic Lebanese specialties – and we always get that all-important garlic balance just right. Click through to our shop to discover delectable Mediterranean treats, delivered direct to your door.