A fresh tadka of whole spices like dried red chillies, cumin seeds, and the sizzle of chopped garlic added to a dollop of ghee, is a sweet symphony often heard in Indian kitchens.
Each of these spices adds its own desi twist to the tempered base for curries and vegetable dishes but garlic is a non-negotiable ingredient. When added to curries, it enhances the aroma and flavour of the dish.
There are also different, lesser-known garlic varieties that are available in the market with unique health benefits. One of which is the Himalayan garlic, also known as ‘Kashmiri garlic’, ‘Jammu garlic’ or ‘snow mountain garlic’. It is harvested once a year from the high altitudes of the Himalayas. Mostly popular for its long list of health benefits, this variety of garlic is considered more potent than the common varieties.
Unlike the common varieties of garlic that are available in the market, the Himalayan garlic is a single clove garlic. It is small in size with a pointy lotus-like structure and with a hard, golden-brown husk. Its small single clove measures up to just 1.5 to 4 centimetres in diameter. The clove has a bright white or creamy-white colour and it has a pungent garlic flavour.
Also known as ‘Ek Pothi Lahsun’ in Hindi, it is available year-round with its peak season being spring.
Not only is its shape and size unique but also it is high in nutritional value. It is a good source of manganese, Vitamins B6 and C, as well as copper, selenium, and phosphorus. Also a source of calcium and vitamin B1, this garlic has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties.
Here is a list of health benefits of Himalayan garlic.
1. Reduces high cholesterol levels
The Himalayan garlic is noted for its efficiency in reducing high cholesterol levels in the human body. They can help in reducing about 20 mg/dl cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the human body.
2. Helps prevent cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, regular consumption of this garlic variant can help in reducing the risk of cancers by 50 per cent. The garlic variety inherently has an organosulphur compound named diallyl trisulfide which helps in fighting cancer by helping the body kill cancerous cells.
3. Helps in controlling diabetes
Apart from reducing cholesterol levels, this snow mountain garlic aids in controlling diabetes. The garlic has a beneficial compound named Allicin that gives the garlic its pungent smell. This compound when combined with Vitamin B and Thiamine stimulates the pancreas to generate insulin in the body as a result, helping the body fight diabetes.
4. Reduces colds and coughs
This mountain garlic reduces the risk of getting coughs and the common cold to a great extent if consumed regularly. It contains the enzymes alliin and alliinase which combine together to form a strong compound called allicin when the cloves are crushed or ground. The allicin formed acts as a protective compound that checks the entry of any kind of bacteria that causes illnesses.
5. It helps in maintaining a healthy heart
Besides reducing high cholesterol levels, the Himalayan garlic helps in reducing the density of the blood thereby preventing the formation of plaque and clots in the blood vessels.
This single clove of garlic also helps in relaxing muscles and hence reducing blood pressure. Hydrogen Sulfide, another chemical compound present in this garlic that helps in reducing the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the body.
How to consume Himalayan garlic?
Himalayan garlic can be consumed either raw or cooked. Although, it is suggested to be crushed or minced before using it to maximise its beneficial properties. It can be used in any type of recipe replacing the common varieties of garlic.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)