29th Apr 2021 @ 9:21 am

Garlic is an absolute essential ingredient on Lanzarote – so all-pervasive and universal that it’s hardly ever mentioned. If you’re a fan, you’re in paradise; if not, it’s time to acquire the taste. And if you’re a vampire – tough.

Garlic grows well in bright sunshine and well drained soil, which means that the stuff produced on Lanzarote is of the highest quality. Not only will you find fat, snow-white papery bulbs of garlic in every supermarket and grocers shop, you’ll often find ajetes (garlic shoots) too.

Garlic grows well in bright sunshine and well drained soil, which means that the stuff produced on Lanzarote is of the highest quality. Not only will you find fat, snow-white papery bulbs of garlic in every supermarket and grocers shop, you’ll often find ajetes (garlic shoots) too.

You won’t find a garlic crusher in most Spanish kitchens. Many local dishes use roughly crushed or chopped whole cloves, and several actually use unpeeled cloves, which prevents the garlic from burning and allows it to caramelise slowly.

That caramelization is important, because slow-cooked garlic has a mellow, satisfying flavour that is nowhere near as pungent as the fresh clove. These tastes work well together, and you’ll often find long-cooked garlic and fresh, sharp garlic in the same dish.

And, of course, it’s not just the Spanish who love garlic. It’s an essential ingredient in Chinese and Thai cuisine, widespread in classic French and Italian cookery, and one of the healthiest base ingredients of Indian food.

Four classic garlic dishes

Indian burnt garlic rice: Most cooks discard burnt garlic, but not the Indians, who have made it the basis of this wonderfully flavoured side dish.

Spaghetti aglio e olio: One of the simplest pasta dishes there is. Piping hot spaghetti tossed in an emulsion of pasta cooking water and plenty of garlic fried in olive oil. And a pinch of chilli flakes.

Gambas al ajillo: The Spanish classic, in which juicy peeled prawns are sizzled with oil, garlic and a dried chilli in an earthenware dish.

Hummus: Garlic is central to this classic Middle Eastern dip made with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and oil.

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