Garlic from Gujarat

The best part about traveling on trains is the people you meet. Indians love to travel in their own country, and they often do it by train. On the way from Jaipur to Bombay we met a young couple going to her family home in southern Gujarat. Like most Indian train travelers they had a neatly arranged hamper full of everything they 'd need on the trip – from food and utensils to blankets. Although the woman did not speak much English we were able to make ourselves understood for the basics – like how obviously in love she and her husband were, the ages of my children, etc.

When it was time to eat (we'd all ordered the 14 rupee – less than 50 cent – thali's), she pulled out a jar of garlic paste to have with her homemade rotis. I was pretty sick with what we were calling "The Rajasthani Crud"– characterized by a persistent cough, headache, lethargy, sometimes fever – and a case of the "touristas", so I just had a little taste. I couldn't eat it then, but I liked it well enough to ask for the recipe.

She just glowed as she had her husband help translate the recipe. Fortunately, I did manage to keep the recipe – unfortunately, I have lost the names of our contributors. So my apologies to our new-found friends, and thanks for the addition to our world-wide taste treats.

Jaipur-Gujarat Garlic Paste

  • Peel and crush 50 (yes that is 50!) cloves of garlic.
  • Peel, seed and chop 2 fresh green chilies and 2 tomatoes
  • Add: 10 to 11 teaspoons of chili powder (or to taste--it will also vary by the quality of the chili powder),
    1 teaspoon of fresh cumin powder,
    2 teaspoons of coriander powder,
    salt to taste,
    a little water

Put in blender and blend until it has reached a chunky paste consistency. Then fry it in about 7 or 8 teaspoons of ground nut (peanut) oil.

The paste is great on crackers or bread, and is likely good to season sauces (I haven't had a kitchen to try this out in). According to our Indian chef, it will last three or four days without refrigeration or two weeks in the refrigerator.

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