Here's a recipe to unlock the magic of Black Garlic Podi
Charmed by the natural umami of fermented garlic, chef Hussain Shahzad of the Bombay Canteen in Mumbai creates his own version of Garlic Podi
Indian culture is best expressed through food. And fermented delights form a focal point within this atlas of flavours. That’s the mantra Hussain Shahzad, Executive Chef, The Bombay Canteen, and O Pedro, in Mumbai, chants while dishing out his quirky recipes. From his fermenting and pickling repertoire emerges black garlic—the secret inclusion in his cooking arsenal.
“It is the natural umami of black garlic that appeals to me,” says Shahzad. “Preparing them takes over two weeks. Garlic cloves are fermented at a controlled temperature of 40-45 °C under high humidity. When I use this ingredient in a dish, every bite carries that punch, of the sweet, jam-like sticky consistency and the creamy taste. The ageing process saps the harsh pungent rush from the garlic and brings in a floral aroma,” he says.
Shahzad’s love for black garlic makes him experiment with its versatility. Black garlic bread is an ingenious derivative specific to the kitchen at The Bombay Canteen. “I introduced The Black Handvo ‘Toast’ at The Bombay Canteen last June and it continues to be popular even today. Handvo is a savoury steamed cake made using lentils and vegetables. I wanted to bring in black garlic as the hero in this recipe, representing it in a ‘garlic bread’ made with black garlic puree and served up with heirloom tomatoes, rhubarb chundo, whipped goat cheese and Rajkot chutney,”he explains. The chef is convinced that the process of blackening can be employed and used for exciting flavours in many vegetables.
“The Rasam Vada is another dark horse piggybacking on the black garlic. “I introduced the Rasam Vada in the menu here this summer. It comes with fermented black garlic podi that complements the dosa crisps,” he says. Plated with fermented black garlic podi on the crunchy, cheesy vada, lime leaf oil, black indigo and sun peach gold tomato salad, the vada salutes the palate with engaging ease in flavours evocative of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
As Executive Chef at Hunger Inc. Hospitality Pvt Ltd, he pours in his creative juices, whetted during this year earlier at Eleven Madison Avenue in New York, followed by a culinary trek across the US and Turkey, with a brief stint as personal chef to tennis star Roger Federer. Continuous innovation, rooted in the culinary cultures of Goa and Portugal, and his inborn flair in blending flavours is what Hussain has imbibed from his mentor, the late chef Floyd Cardoz. “I believe in marrying local produce with contemporary culinary techniques to cook smarter, sharper.” We’re sold.
Black Garlic Podi
5 tbsp black garlic,chopped/smashed
7 tbsp chana dal, slow toasted
5 tbsp black sesame, toasted
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp denatured yeast flakes
1/4 tsp powdered citric acid
✥ Blitz the ingredients and store them in an airtight jar in the refrigerator
✥ Use as required
✥ Mix with warm ghee and serve with dosa, pesarattu, or even idli
✥ Use as a sprinkle mix on French fries, chips, bread croutons or fried chicken
✥ Use as a finishing mix in salad dressings
Method to make Black Garlic
✥ Wrap big cloves of garlic in foil completely. Keep the skins intact for they protect the cloves from extreme heat or damage.
✥ Toss the cloves into an electric rice cooker.
✥ Keep the rice cooker on low heat (warm mode) for 14 days
✥ Occasionally, sprinkle water over the cloves and foil to create the steam
✥ The garlic is done when all cloves have turned black and are sticky in consistency with
a molasses-like flavour
(Note: The only way to get perfectly roasted black garlic is by controlling the heat of the ferment by using an electric rice cooker)