Mamta's Kitchen - A Family Cookbook

Meals without onion or garlic

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On 10/01/2022 11:01am, Helen wrote:


I've used this site to find interesting recipes for a while and have always found it very helpful (I made a variation of Cabbage Bhaji/sabji 1 with red cabbage yesterday, for example - very tasty!), but I'd like to ask for some help.

I'd like to cook a meal for a friend of mine who can't eat onion or garlic or dairy or eggs. He's happy with any spices, just not alliums.

I know there must be many tasty recipes that would fit the bill - are there any keywords that would help me to search for them on this site? Or any dishes that you would particularly recommend? I'd prefer vegetarian recipes if possible but it's not absolutely necessary.

Thank you!


On 10/01/2022 07:01pm, wrote:


I am glad that my site has been of help to you. I am sure red cabbage cooked in Indian style is really tasty.

You ask an interesting question! I am in my late seventies now. When I was growing up in northern India, hardly any vegetables were cooked with onions and garlic. Ginger was commonly used. My grandmother wouldn't touch the food if same knife as onions was used to chop the vegetable. Traditionally, onions and garlic are not considered good foods, 'they are Tamish', not good for us.

These days, everything has onions unfortunately. Dairy and eggs are easy, use oil instead of ghee and don't cook eggs.

I have a few recipes for curries without onions, the words 'Onion free' or no onions' might work. Most of the vegetable bhajies/sabjies can be made without onions and I often do.

Curry sauce of any type can be made without onions and garlic. Just omit the step of frying onions and go straight to add tomatoes and/or spices. If you have an individual favourite, let me know. I will tell you how.

Basic Curry Sauce - Free From Onion and Garlic

Potato and Peas Curry with Tomatoes - Free From Onions and Garlic

Green Banana Curry - 4 No Onions & Tomatoes (Reeta's)

Hope this helps.


On 11/01/2022 11:01am, Helen wrote:

Hello Mamta,

Thank you for your help! I knew that many people traditionally didn't eat onions or garlic but they are so common in recipes that I didn't know if I could just leave them out.

The recipes you mention look very useful, thanks! I've never cooked with green banana before but might have to give that one a try on a different occasion unless it would work with non dairy yoghurt - I know not all of them react the same way to cooking.

As far as my own favourites are concerned, I'm quite fond of chickpeas, so anything with them in is good! I was also thinking of dishes like this kidney bean curry recipe:13371 where there are onions in both the main part and the tarka - can I leave the onion and garlic out and still have a good dish, or would it be better to avoid those recipes and stick with the ones that already onion free?

Many thanks for your help!


On 14/01/2022 12:01pm, Mamta wrote:

Hello Helen

Q can I leave the onion and garlic out and still have a good dish, or would it be better to avoid those recipes and stick with the ones that already onion free?

A Absolutely! As said, many people in Indian still do not eat Onions and garlic, This may be for religious reason, they are strict Hindu/Jain etc. or because they don't like onions or because the onions may be too expensive generally/at certain times of the year. My MIL, and often my mother, cooked all vegetarian dishes without onions. Use almost any recipe for curry and omit the step of add and fry onions.

What you can do is make a blended paste of all the spices, ginger salt and yoghurt or tomatoes. Then heat some oil, add your tarka ingredients (Cumin/Panchpooran/black mustard seeds/fenugreek seeds etc.). As soon as the seeds crackle, add this blended mix. Fry it stirring, until the oil separates at the edges. Now add your main ingredients and stir to wrap them in this spice mix. Then cook according to the need of your main ingredient, with water for sauce/gravy or without water, if you want the end result to be dryish.


One day, when I have more energy, I will write down how to make a dish without onion and garlic and add it to the bottom of each recipe. It will be a big task, but may be worth it!


On 22/02/2022 10:02am, J. S. wrote:

Since I don?t eat onion & garlic, I substitute the onions in most of the recipes with generous amount of ginger & finely chopped cabbage. I saute cabbage just the way you would saute onions. Ginger & cabbage are good substitutes for onions. As far as garlic is concerned, we don?t have a very close substitute but I add a bit of roasted cumin powder. Hope this helps.

On 22/02/2022 09:02pm, Mamta wrote:

That is great JS. As I have mentioned before, people do not put onions in everything they cook and garlic even less. You can cook perfectly good food without onions. Cabbage sounds like a good idea for bulking up or thickening the gravy/sauce of a curry. In India, Besan flour, flour or a mashed potato are sometimes used.


On 23/02/2022 03:02pm, Helen Bach wrote:

Onions and garlic provide sulphur containing moieties to produce flavours with meat. Cabbage (and the like) contain sulphur, and in this respect, would be a fine substitute for onions. Onions also contribute carbohydrate, so cabbage would be fine, there, too.

On 24/02/2022 10:02am, Mamta Gupta wrote:

Hello Helen

You always provide an insight into properties of various foods, which I love being a chemists daughter. Thank you so much.


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