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Jan 22, 2007 01:20 AM

Vegetarian Cookbook without garlic?

I realize this post is anathema to the garlic-lovers out there, but here's the point of it: I've got a garlic intollerance. Not a full-on allergy (thank goodness) but unpleasant things happen to my body if I eat more than a trace, and more than a hint pretty much ruins any dish for me anyway because it simply kills my appetite. I discovered this after some vegetarians had me over and there was nothing to eat but thousand garlic lasagna, and, well, it was unpleasant.

Anyway, I have a fairly substantial cookbook collection, but only one vegetarian one because, as I discovered with that book (The Greens Cookbook) and every other one I've looked at since, vegetarian cookbooks seem to equate the words "delicious" and "flavorful" with "contains garlic." And simply substituting or omitting is a recipe for boring food.

Anyone able to point to a vegetarian cookbook where, with the exception of the desserts section, there is not an over-reliance on garlic? I haven't found one with less than a one-in-three percentage containing garlic, and even that estimate seems generous.

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  1. Well, all I can imagine is that you consult cookbooks designed for use by followers of Jainism, as they do not eat any members of the onion family. It's a religion based in the Indian subcontinent, so perhaps there are English-language resources for that?

    1. You may want to try "The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking" by Yamuna Devi. The recipes use no onion or garlic, and are very good, though I must admit to sometimes adding some myself.

      1 Reply
      1. re: phofiend

        Ditto what phofiend said. Good book.

      2. Have you tried substituting shallots in recipes that call for garlic?

        1. Actually, shallots are my standard substitution in most recipes, and I've found that bay, rosemary, lavender and truffles are all pungent enough to take the place while still keeping a flavor balance. That said, I tend to distrust any cook with an over-reliance on a single ingredient. I wouldn't think much of a cookbook that had shallots in every dish either.

          On the Indian cooking end, I've found that if I want garlic flavor without actually having garlic, asafoetida works well, though it's a rather evil spice to have in the cabinet uncooked, at least smell-wise.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Kevin Andrew Murphy

            Yes, asafoetida, and keep it double wrapped. Do you use the powdered stuff or the solid chunks? The powdered usually is cut with starch and may be less stinky in the cupboard. But I have found it a very useful spice for vegetarian cooking in general. That, black salt, and miso are secret weapons for adding 'meaty' flavor to dishes that might otherwise use meat stocks. Smoked paprika gives your bacon action. (Or lox trimmings if you eat fish.)

            Yamuna Devi's book is great, and has changed a lot of my non-Indian cooking too.

            Getting over the garlic-in-every-dish obsession has vastly improved my cooking. I still love garlic, but no longer view it as culinary panacea.

            1. re: noahbirnel

              Ah, my secret weapon to add "meaty" flavor to vegetarian dishes (or more meat complexity to meat dishes) is lovage. Thankfully I've got it established in my garden, though I did once see it for sale in Whole Foods plants for your garden section.

              Lovage is particularly good for soups and stews, since it can take the place of celery leaves, but is also good for salads, really adding complexity.

          2. 2nd Devi's book in that it has no garlic (it's on my to-try list).

            Also, almost all traditional Chinese vegetarian books will have no garlic and scallion based on the Buddhist principles. However most of them are in Chinese, though more and more have English translations. They are photo-heavy, so you know what you're getting.
            Anyways, the main aromatic when there's no garlic is ginger and sesame oil, and/or chili, and herbs (cilantro) is used quite often especially in spicy dishes. If you want I may be able to get some ideas from the books on my shelf.