Ginger and garlic paste is used in almost every main dish. When I was first learning to cook Indian food, I got my ginger and garlic paste from Safeway. Then I started to get it from the Indian store because it’s cheaper. Now, I make it at home. It’s the cheapest version and it is by far the most flavorful, which is what really counts.
To a beginner cook or a cook new to Indian food, making your own ginger and garlic paste at home may seem like too much effort when it can easily be bought at the grocery store. The difference however is substantial. Using fresh ginger and garlic will improve the flavor of your dish immensely and isn’t that what cooking is all about?
Ginger and garlic paste keeps very well in an air-tight container stored in the refrigerator or freezer. So if you’re taking the time to make it at home, there is no reason not to make a big batch of it to speed up your cooking during the week. When I first started using homemade ginger and garlic paste, I was making it fresh for each recipe. It’s very quick and easy to whip up on the spot but I now make about a week’s worth at a time, storing it in the refrigerator and making my cooking time even faster. If I had ice cube trays, I would spoon the paste into the trays, let it freeze, transfer it to a freezer-safe, air-tight bag and then store them to be pulled out and used a cube at a time. As soon as I find myself some ice cube trays, I’ll be changing to this method. If you are storing for future use, make sure you use an air-tight container, otherwise everything in your freezer or refrigerator will smell of ginger and garlic.
Ginger & Garlic Paste
The great part of making this at home is how you can adjust the ratio of ginger to garlic to fit your own preference. I use half ginger and half garlic but you might prefer more ginger or vice versa. Feel free to play around with it till you find your favorite ratio. You can make enough for just one dish or enough to last a month as long the ratio is the same.
Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 cup/16 tablespoons – about a tablespoon per dish (enough for 16-20 dishes)
1/2 cup (100 grams) fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup (100 grams) garlic cloves, peeled
food processor or blender
Measure out how much much ginger and garlic you will use. This is when I like to use my kitchen scale I got from Sur La Table. It has a “tare” function which means you can put an empty bowl on the scale, zero out the weight by pressing the “tare” button and then add your ingredients into the bowl, measuring only the ingredients and not including the weight of the bowl. This makes everything so easy and clean! But if you don’t have a kitchen scale or can’t be bothered, you could probably eyeball the amounts, it doesn’t have to be exact.
Peel off the skin of the ginger and cut into rough chops, just enough so your food processor or blender can handle it. Some can take a larger chop than others. I used my grandmothers mini food processor which doesn’t have much sharpness anymore so I had to chop mine pretty small. I could have used my bigger food processor but then I would have to make much more paste than I needed to get it to blend together in such a big bowl, or I would have needed to use more water which dulls the flavor if used in excess. If you have only a big food processor, make a big batch and freeze it for later.
Next, peel the garlic. To learn how to peel garlic fast, check out the tutorial at the end of this post. Add the peeled garlic to the food processor or blender and blend into a fine paste (about a minute). I chose to use my mini food processor because the more compact the ginger and garlic is, the easier it becomes a paste.
Transfer the paste to an air tight container (I keep mine in tiny tupperware) and store in the refrigerator. It will keep fresh for about a week. I have heard adding a bit of oil to the paste will help it keep longer (about 1/2 a teaspoon for a cup worth of paste). Add the oil while you are blending the paste. I’m not sure why this keeps it fresh longer, but I’ve been told it does so I thought I would share.
How To Peel Garlic Fast and Easy
When a recipe calls for peeled garlic, most people cringe and decide to avoid the recipe all together. But peeling garlic is not hard and it really doesn’t take long. It’s just that we need to avoid doing it the slow and tedious way. No wonder cooking seems like a chore! Once I learned a few tips and tricks for doing prep work faster, the act of cooking transformed from a chore I dreaded to the art of creating.
A fast way to peel garlic is to take a full head of garlic, lay the root or stem side down. Then place the flat blade of your knife on top of the garlic head and smash it down using your fist. If enough force is not used the first time to break it apart, you will need to try two or three times. If you use too much force, garlic cloves will go flying. You’ll quickly figure out how much force to use.
Separate out the cloves, taking as much as you need for the recipe. To peel each clove, lay a clove flat against the cutting board. Holding the handle of the knife, place the blade of your knife flat on top of the clove, the clove should be centered under the blade or closer to the knife handle but not too close to the tip of the blade. Slap down the heel of your hand or your fist onto the flat blade to smash down the garlic clove. The skin should peel right off!
The first few tries of this, it might be hard to tell how much force to use. If you don’t press hard enough the skin doesn’t easily peel off. If you press too hard, the cloves smashes into a mess. In two or three attempts you’ll have a good feel for it.
When making the paste, where I have a full head of garlic to peel, I use an assembly line method where I pile all the garlic cloves together and then one by one, smash each clove down with my knife, crewing another pile of smashed cloves, then I peel them, tossing the peeled cloves into the food processor and making a pile of the skins. I can peel a full head of garlic in a little over a minute. Maybe I should try to beat my record!
Now, I know some of you are thinking how much trouble it seems to do all this. When writing it out in detail like this, it sounds daunting to me too. But the entire process of making enough garlic and ginger paste to last a month of cooking takes 5 minutes. If you are doing it for the first time, it will take longer because you’re learning, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fast and easy.
If peeling garlic still seems a bit too much, you can purchase pre-peeled garlic. We used to get pre-peeled garlic in big bags at Costco that lasted us months. We kept it in the freezer and I would keep a few days worth of garlic thawed in the refrigerator to have on hand. However, pre-peeled garlic has much less flavor than fresh garlic and it will effect the flavor of the paste.
If you are trying an Indian dish for the first time, go ahead and try the pre-made paste. It’s what I used to use when I first started and the dishes taste delicious. However, if you want to take your dish from delicious to something special, taking the extra effort to use fresher, more flavorful ingredients makes all the difference.
Make just a bit of fresh paste for one dish and see how you like it. I cook everyday and my paste goes fast, so making a big batch makes sense to me, especially because making one meal’s worth and one month’s worth takes the same amount of time.
Both ginger and garlic are highly medicinal and have been used as a natural pain killer for headaches and muscle pains. Ginger has been used as an immune booster, helping against a common cold or sore throat up to the flu. It is a natural blood thinner, helping to ward against heart attacks and strokes and is a natural cough suppressant. Garlic helps lower high cholesterol and blood pressure and boosts the immune system as well. It is also used to prevent sore throats, coughs and other respiratory weaknesses. Of course, these benefits are strongest in fresh ginger and garlic. Another great reason to make your paste at home!
Read more about the benefits of ginger and garlic here.
If you try the paste, let me know how it goes. Write me a comment or send me an email here.