Garlic is a strongly aromatic bulb crop that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today it is renowned throughout the world for its distinctive flavour as well as health giving properties. South Asia is no exception in using garlic in both cooking and medicine.
Coloured lithograph of a garlic bulb, 1850.
Traditional medicine
In traditional Indian medicine garlic has been applied to the noses of hysterical girls to calm them down.
A domesticated plant
Garlic was domesticated long ago and the species familiar to us today is not known in the wild. It is believed to have originated in Central Asia, but has been used as a medicine and flavouring for thousands of years.
Important bulb crop
After onion, garlic is the most important bulb crop in South Asia. India is one of the world's largest producers where it is a very popular food. It is grown in large quantities in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharastra and Bihar.
Forbidden food
It is forbidden to eat garlic in Jain and some Hindu religions in South Asia.