Garlic is one of the most popular ingredients in the world, and for good reason – it has many culinary uses. But which cuisines use garlic the most? And which ones don’t use it at all?
China is by far the largest consumer of garlic worldwide, with around 75% of the global market. Then followed by India, at 5%, and then Indonesia and Bangladesh which account for 2% each. Countries such as Italy and the U.S. account for less than 1% of the market.
In this article, I explore the different cuisines that are the biggest users of garlic and discover a little about their cultures. I also provide a list of dishes that feature lots of garlic, just in case you fancy trying out something a little bit different.
Which Cuisines Use The Most Garlic
According to a recent report, the global consumption of garlic stood at around $18.1bn in 2016, and the largest consumers for use in their cuisine may well surprise you. Many Americans probably think of Italian food as using the most garlic but in actual fact, that type of cuisine comes way down the list.
China is the number one consumer of garlic with the country grabbing a huge 75% of the global market based on physical tonnes of garlic.
As in many large countries, there are many different types of cuisine in China, with each province having its own unique style of cooking. Besides the most well-known examples of Cantonese and Szechwan, there is Beijing cuisine, Shanghai cuisine, Hubai or Hunan cuisine, and many more.
Unlike the fast food culture of the United States, Chinese people like to select fresh meats, live seafood, garlic, and seasonal fruit and vegetables from the local market so that they know it’s fresh.
They are not so concerned with nutritional values as Western populations but instead consider the texture of their food and its flavor, color, and aroma to be much more important.
Next on the list of top consumers of garlic in the world is India, which accounts for about 5% of the global market. Indian cuisine dates back thousands of years and has influences from Chinese, Mongolian, and Persian cultures among others.
Of course, a common thread that has existed throughout centuries of history is the distinct mixing of herbs and spices, including garlic, that gives Indian cuisine the wonderful flavors and aromas that we all love.
Mealtimes often focus on social eating with many meals eaten in groups that continue until everyone is fully satiated and the food served ranges from exotic dishes with many layers of flavor to simple vegetarian meals.
Regional variations result in many types of different cuisines and reflect the foods available in each area. Dal for instance is popular in the North and has lentils as its main ingredient, while a pork dish called Vindaloo is very popular in the West.
Indonesia is another country that uses a large amount of garlic, taking up about 2% of the global market. The world’s largest archipelago is composed of approximately 6,000 populated islands and has many varied cuisines that are based on local cultures with some foreign influences including Indian and Middle Eastern cultures.
Typical Indonesian cuisine features rice, noodles, and soup dishes that are often rich in flavor and are commonly hot and spicy. These include the ceremonial dish, Tumpeng which originates from Javanese cuisine, and other popular dishes such as Nasi Goreng and Satay.
There are also traces of Chinese influence in many Indonesian dishes today with foods such as meatballs and spring rolls becoming very popular.
The last of our most garlic-heavy cuisines is Bangladesh which accounts for about 2% of the global market, roughly the same as Indonesia.
The cuisine in Bangladesh is unsurprisingly very South Asian in nature and shares a lot with the nearby Indian state of West Bengal. The food here is unique in that it relies heavily on the use of fish together with many types of pastes made from garlic, spices, and chilies amongst other things. Often extremely fiery they are often too hot even for visitors from India!
One of the most common types of dish is a Bhuna, which is a style of dish where a spicy paste made from red chili, cinnamon, ginger, onion, and garlic is heated in oil before cooking with meat, fish or vegetables.
Notable Recipes That Use A Lot Of Garlic
There are many recipes available that use a lot of garlic and I’ve found a few popular ones for you to try. Make sure you don’t have an important face-to-face meeting the next day though.
This recipe combines lots of fresh minced garlic with tasty shrimp and comes together really quickly. It’s simple enough to make for a midweek meal even though it looks and tastes amazing. You can serve it with pasta or just with a side of crusty bread.
Roast Chicken with Lots of Garlic
This roast chicken recipe really does have a lot of garlic in it! In fact, it calls for 4 complete heads so it is definitely one for real lovers of the humble bulb.
Garlic Mushroom Pasta
Incredibly delicious and easy to make, this mushroom pasta dish is made with simple ingredients including 3 cloves of garlic for a really flavorsome midweek meal.
Beef And Lamb Shawarma Wraps
This Middle Eastern recipe combines thinly sliced garlicky beef and lamb in a tasty wrap and is easy to make at home. Marinating the meat in a marinade that includes 12 minced garlic bulbs means this Lebanese street food dish is absolutely packed full of flavor.
The Pierogi Pizza dish was reportedly invented in Pittsburgh as a way for the post-war working class to make a cheap meal that filled you up and gave you enough energy for the day’s work. It’s basically garlic mashed potato on a standard pizza base so is probably not very good for you but is definitely worth a try!
- Related article: 12 Tasty Ways To Eat Garlic Without Cooking It
Why Is Garlic So Popular?
The popularity of using garlic in many cuisines probably goes back centuries. Garlic has the obvious qualities of a fabulous aroma and taste.
It also has been shown to help us absorb iron and zinc from foods made with pulses and grains. It also works well with other herbs and spices to enhance their natural flavors in the dish.
Add to that the fact that eating garlic has been revered across the ages as having many medicinal benefits, it’s no surprise that many ancient cultures started using it as one of the most important ingredients in many of their dishes.
Do Any Cuisines Not Use Garlic?
Although it’s difficult to find any types of popular cuisine that avoid the use of garlic completely, Japanese food does not use large amounts of garlic in the majority of its traditional dishes.
This might be due to it not being available historically or it being avoided by practicing Buddhists for the risk it might bring impure thoughts. And traditional Japanese food has lots of subtle flavors which would be overpowered by garlic.
Apart from that, Hindus and Buddhists sometimes avoid consuming garlic, and followers of Jainism practice Jain vegetarianism which excludes all root and underground vegetables including garlic.
I hope you’ve found this article on which cuisines use the most garlic an interesting read. I was a little surprised at which countries and cultures were the biggest consumers and maybe you are too.
If you’re a big fan of a strong garlicky dish make sure you try one of the tasty recipes I’ve mentioned.
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