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Garlic in Persia


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I have noticed that in some parts of Iran, very little or no garlic is eaten. I know they make a pickled garlic but most of the recipes I have come across are garlicfree. That said, I know that in North West Iran (Urmia) plenty of garlic is used.

Am I mistaken in my accessment that garlic is used sparingly? and what is the reason for this? I read somewhere in the vast recesses of the internet that this is due to zoroastrianism but I really don't know anything about this subject.

Thanks!

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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  • 2 weeks later...
I have noticed that in some parts of Iran, very little or no garlic is eaten. I know they make a pickled garlic but most of the recipes I have come across are garlicfree. That said, I know that in North West Iran (Urmia) plenty of garlic is used.

Am I mistaken in my accessment that garlic is used sparingly? and what is the reason for this? I read somewhere in the vast recesses of the internet that this is due to zoroastrianism but I really don't know anything about this subject.

Thanks!

My experience is the same. I find that Northerners (areas bordering the Caspian) are the only people for whom garlic is a staple. My family was always paranoid about garlic breath, and we were told to avoid it unless we knew for a fact that we wouldn't have human contact for a day or two.

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I have noticed that in some parts of Iran, very little or no garlic is eaten. I know they make a pickled garlic but most of the recipes I have come across are garlicfree. That said, I know that in North West Iran (Urmia) plenty of garlic is used.

Am I mistaken in my accessment that garlic is used sparingly? and what is the reason for this? I read somewhere in the vast recesses of the internet that this is due to zoroastrianism but I really don't know anything about this subject.

Thanks!

My experience is the same. I find that Northerners (areas bordering the Caspian) are the only people for whom garlic is a staple. My family was always paranoid about garlic breath, and we were told to avoid it unless we knew for a fact that we wouldn't have human contact for a day or two.

,

Thanks so much for your answer. I know that Persians from the Western Azerbaizan province in Iran indeed use lots of garlic, I suppose influenced by the Turks amoung others. I also know that in the North of the country they like to make garlic pickles, sometimes preserved for years. May I ask what part of Iran your family is from? My grandmother comes from Iraq not far from Kordistan province (koysanjak). She, for example, never cooks with garlic because of its

strong smell.

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Persiancook, I hear you on the paranoia. My family never cooked with garlic growing up, but if ever I had dinner outside the home that had garlic in it, my grandmother would say-not in the nicest tone- "You had garrrlick"! Has made me paranoid for life.

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The garlic taboo is extremely ancient, and can be traced back to its Indo-Iranian or earlier roots. That garlic taboo carries over very strongly into the Indian-Aryan culture as well [bTW, the ONLY peoples that EVER identify themselves as AryAh are the Iranian(derived from the very word) and the Vedic culture, as in " the three peoples, who place the radiance (forever) in front of them(selves): tisrAh prajAh AryAh jyotiragrAh.

Interesting how such an innocent phrasing co-opted by European philologists has created a monster out of this word and out of a very precious and venerated symbol, the swastika, and the interlocking triangle, both very much an intrinsic symbolology of this culture for many thouands of years. This very much has to do with the issue of garlic, because they all are tied up together in a densely interwoven view of life and cosmology.

Incidentally, the OP should consult a paper titled "The Olive in the Holy Land" Economic Botany, 1967 or 1968 and carefully scrutinize the photographs of relief carvings reproduced there. I am sure she will be quite surprised and that surprise has some bearing on the diffusion and overlap of cultures that we need to understand here when speaking of the thousands of years of history of the Near East.

The garlic taboo is so strong that ALL Buddhist cultures, from Vietnam to China, retained a trace of that Indo-Iranian proscription, bearing the mark of Buddhism's relative temporal proximity to its Indo-Iranian cultural roots. In Vietnam, shallots & leeks, to say nothing of garlic are unwelcome in strict monastic diets. In orthodox Indian diets, including Jain food rules [Jainism being another religious movement that grew strong during the time of the Buddha], no garic or onion is to be found. In Tibet, I am told, due to the Indian/Buddhist biases, the anti-allium mindset holds strong in monastic diets and among laypeople who hew closely to the religious strictures.

Even in those Indian Brahman communities who do eat meat or fish, e.g. the Kashmiri Pandit, the Gaud Saraswat of the west Coast or the Vaidikas of Bengal, never is garlic or onion included.

Asafetida, a pungent resin fund ONLY in IRAN or Afghanistan is almost a STAPLE in the orthodox Indian vegetarian kiitchen. It is rarely if ever used in its native heath!! Xuan Zhang, the great Chinese scholar & pilgrim from T'ang China, who lived and travelled extensively in India c.640 C.E. described in detail the cooking of the great monastery universities of his day, Nalanda etc.: rich in ghee & asafetida, just as vegetarian cooking in northern India still is.

This Iranian resin from a desert fennel, Ferula asafetida, is the great garlic+ onion substitute wherever the orthodox Indo-Iranian culture holds sway. Non-Aryan & Muslim cooking in the subcontinent is distinguished by their use of alliums and general absence of asafetida.

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