Why You Should Cook With Less Onions And Garlic, According To Radhi Devlukia - Exclusive

For dedicated cooks, there are some ingredients that feel irreplaceable in their form and function. Onions and garlic have an unparalleled effect on fragrance and flavor, for example, and most wouldn't consider leaving these essential alliums out of their cooking. But should you? 

In addition to their outsized effect on taste and aroma, onions and garlic play a role in the nutritional profile of your meals when consumed in a small amount. However, too much of a good thing is, well, not good for your body. Onions and garlic can lead to serious indigestion when consumed too often, an irritation that comes from a heightened level of fermentable oligosaccharides, like fructans.

When Tasting Table sat down with Radhi Devlukia for an exclusive interview preceding the publication of her new cookbook, "Joyfull: Cook Effortlessly, Eat Freely, Live Radiantly," the nutritionist and plant-based author had a lot to say about cooking with less onion and garlic. "I think what's happened in our culture, as time has progressed, is onion and garlic have become the staple behind breakfast, lunch, and dinner," Devlukia told us. "Instead of using [them] for medicinal value in the right proportions, we've overdone it. Now, [they're] causing inflammation in the gut and discomfort."

According to Devlukia, the FODMAP diet, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, is an established explanation for why people have begun to remove onions and garlic from their diet. However, she recommends cutting back on them for another reason as well: It can improve the flavor and complexity of your cooking. 

How to cook with less onion and garlic

Many folks transitioning into or already following a low FODMAP diet, which focuses on cutting back on certain carbohydrates, know that skipping onion and garlic is a key part of the plan. If you fit into this category and are distraught by the idea of reducing your intake of these alliums, fear not. According to Monash University of Alberta, the fructan content of onions and garlic is not dissolvable in oil. This means that if you add large pieces of either onion or garlic as ingredients in your cooking and then remove them before you eat, the oligosaccharides you're avoiding won't be transferred to the rest of your food.

If you're not following low FODMAP but want to expand the flavors of your home cooking, as per Radhi Devlukia, onion and garlic substitutes do exist. You just have to know where to look; in this case, it's the spice drawer. Asafoetida is a staple Indian spice that all home cooks should keep on hand, especially those looking to cut alliums. Hing, as it's called in Hindi, can easily replace the deep, savory, earthbound notes of these ingredients. Just be sure to avoid topping your food with it and instead cook the spice in hot fat (butter, ghee, or oil) to reduce bitterness and bloom desirable flavors.