There are few kitchen staples that are as indispensable as garlic. It brings a sharpness of taste, an aromatic flavor and a distinctive depth. A simple garlic and tomato sauce can elevate even store-bought pizza dough or plain spaghetti; garlic and butter makes any bread heavenly; and it’s hard to imagine cooking any protein without a garlic paste rubdown.

But cooking with garlic demands a certain amount of respect and needs to be handled with care.

Read on to find out how to maximize this wonderful ingredient’s goodness with 3 basic cooking techniques.

When it comes to preparing food with garlic, it’s never as simple as just tossing it in because raw garlic can sometimes be overpowering thanks to its sulfurous compounds. Each time you dice, mince or chop up a clove of garlic, you are activating and releasing these compounds. That is why crushing them gently or slowly cooking them whole avoids this compound activation and ensures that the fructose sugars encased in those cloves are broken down gradually until they turn sweet, mellow and delicious.

You can do all this by any one of these methods:

  1. Boiling
    The slow cooking method of boiling allows the garlic to infuse the broth with its strong flavors, which are then distributed evenly. Great for preparing stocks, stews, and soups and also applies to all dishes prepared in a crock pot or slow cooker.
  2. Baking
    Most baked dishes like casseroles benefit from the addition of garlic as the contents fully absorb the slowly released flavor. Whether it is vegetables, poultry, meat or fish, there are few things that don’t taste better with garlic after being baked with it.
  3. Roasting
    This method allows garlic to break down gently and caramelize. You could either add it to the dish before you start roasting or wrap the garlic in tin foil and let it go through the process on its own. Once this is done, just use the soft pulp to enhance the dish.

Garlic doesn’t really need any additional motivation to be added to your diet but in case you needed some, this is information that will surely help:

  • Garlic’s health benefits are legion as this single food source is effective against bacteria, viruses, protozoans and fungi.
  • It stimulates the immune system and lowers blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Garlic is best known for its use against lung and stomach infections.
  • A 2003 study highlighted the potency of garlic extract against MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
  • Another study conducted in 2011 found that garlic was effective against antibiotic-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

PS: Head to our Food section for healthy recipes and the latest food trends.
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Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.