Purple haze

Sometimes I wish I was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Not the way he shouts at the camera all the time, or his obsession with making vegetarians eat offal (‘Faint at the sight of a beefburger? Here’s some lamb’s lungs’) , but the way he knows what to Do with things. He’d know exactly what to do with this Early Wight garlic that I just dug up. Early excitement at its pretty purpleness and lovely smell turned to slight panic when I read that it’s a ‘hardneck’ variety, or ‘wet’ garlic that is supposed to be eaten fresh, not stored like the ‘softneck’ kinds. I have 13 bulbs to get through and the clock is ticking… Should I be roasting? soup-making? eating it raw? Recipe suggestions please, or at the very least, recommendations for a good book since I obviously won’t be going out into polite company for several weeks…

5 thoughts on “Purple haze”

  1. Just tried the Chicken and New Season Garlic soup since had some chicken stock hanging around in the freezer. Incredibly simple to make and absolutely gorgeous…

  2. Just found the Hugh recipes online…

    New Season Garlic Bhajis
    Serves 4-6


    90g chickpea (gram or besan) flour
    2 tbsp plain flour
    ½ teaspoon ground coriander
    ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
    A good pinch of cayenne pepper
    A good pinch of black onion (nigella or kalonji) seeds
    3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
    4 bulbs of new-season wet garlic, sliced cross-ways as finely as possible
    About 100-130ml beer or water
    Groundnut oil for deep frying


    Sift the flours, ground coriander, salt and cayenne together into a bowl. Whisk in the black onion seeds, coriander and fresh garlic. Gradually pour in the beer or water until you have a smooth batter, stirring as you go. You may not need all of the liquid.
    Pour the groundnut oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan to a depth of about 8-10cm and warm over a medium heat. You want the oil to be hot, but not too hot as you want the garlic and flour to cook through without the outside of the bhajis burning. Drop the batter into the oil in spoonfuls and cook until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the pan; you may need to cook them in batches. Drain on kitchen paper briefly and then serve with radish leaves and radish raita (see below). For an extra garnish, shred some of the fresh garlic stems, fry them until crispy and scatter them over the top.

    Chicken and New Season Garlic Soup
    Serves 4


    About 1 litre very good, home-made chicken stock
    3 bulbs of new-season wet garlic
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 x 1cm slices of good, white bread


    Halve the garlic bulbs and simmer in the stock for 30 minutes until very soft. Whizz in a blender or puree with a stick blender until smooth then pass through a fine sieve. Return to the pan and warm through gently. Check seasoning and add a little sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper if you like.
    Cut the bread into 1cm cubes and scatter some into the bottom of four warmed soup bowls. Ladle over the garlic soup and serve immediately.

    Roast New Season Garlic


    6 bulbs of new season garlic
    3-4 tablespoons rape seed oil or olive oil
    1 tsp fine sea salt


    Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Top and tail the garlic and put them on their bases in an oven proof dish. Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with salt and roast until golden, about 45 minutes.

    With thanks to rivercottage.net

  3. I did hear that he’d done something with wet garlic, but missed it, so that’s really helpful, thanks. I think I’ll try the roasting thing and maybe the chicken soup. Will let you know how I get on!

  4. Hi

    Did you see the latest River Cottage Spring? Hugh was cooking with wet garlic. They roasted it for I think about 30 minutes with a little olive oil and salt and then just munched into it. Then his friend made wet garlic soup, which was chicken stock with the wet garlic in, cooked for 30 minutes then blitzed it. Finally they made wet garlic bhajis. It all looked really delicious, made me wish I was growing it (think I will next year). Apparently wet garlic is no where near as strong as normal garlic.

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