It's that time of they year when the bizarre smell of garlic hits your nostrils when walking through woodland. Each year I completely forget that my favourite free food is available in large quantities in British woodland. And it is only when I'm walking, such as yesterday, and somebody like my daughter says, 'Can you smell garlic dad?', that I remember what I really should be doing.
With large fistfuls of stalks, leaves and flowers in hand, it was straight to the kitchen for some garlic related cooking. Wild garlic, or ramson, is much milder that the commercial bulb that we are used to, therefore it is perfect for giving your food a hit of flavour. A simple soup with potato is perfect for this delicate herb. Or bash it up with a little lemon and olive oil and it becomes a superb rub for a roast chicken, something which is currently filling my house with stomach rumbling aroma.
It is also a great addition to some spiced batter, which can be dropped into hot oil for some simple homemade bhajis. We impatiently stood around the pan whilst the smell of garlic and Indian spice smacked our nostrils, and then greedily devoured each one with some mango chutney. Hot, crispy, garlic and spice cakes; amazing.
So please do remember to responsibly pick a few handfuls if you see or smell some next time you are walking. It is free and delicious, just like some of the best things in life.
Wild Garlic Bhajis
200g rice or chickpea flour (plain flour will be fine)
2 tbsp garam masala
Half tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
Salt and pepper
Soda water (plain water will do)
2 large handfuls of wild garlic, washed
Vegetable or sunflower oil
1 - Place the flour, spices and seasoning in a mixing bowl. Pour in the water and whisk until you have a batter that is reasonably thick but still wet enough to mix in the wild garlic.
2 - Roughly chop the wild garlic then stir into the batter.
3 - Heat a good few inches of oil for deep-frying in a pan. Drop in a piece of bread and if it turns golden brown within a minute, it is ready.
4 - Carefully place tablespoons of the mixture into the pan and fry for 5 minutes or until the mixture has turned golden brown. Cook in batches and drain on kitchen towel.