Russians have a love of all things ‘smelly’, and there are at least three products we can think of: onion, dill (more on that here) and garlic. According to ancient Russian writings, garlic was already big in the 13th century. People had used it to ward off evil, while ancient Russian healers and doctors would often recommend it for insomniacs, angina, rheumatism and a whole host of other illnesses - even malaria! Garlic’s ‘healing’ powers for a long time acted as substitute for penicillin (until its invention, that is) and it was deemed effective against sores and wounds as an antiseptic.
In our days, the belief in garlic’s medicinal properties refuses to wane. Some families will still make their kids wear little garlic necklaces around their necks to protect from the cold virus. As for garlic-based dishes - well, they never went away. That being said, with that much garlic in your system, it’s natural that someone will have started to come up with marinated garlic dishes, and Russians have a lot of them. You still get the essential burn, but the taste isn’t so overpowering. Marinating it with beetroot, for example, is a popular approach - and one that gives the dish a bright pinkish hue. You can serve this as a starter for your guests. And the little ones will also be excited to try it, given the exciting color.
1. Peel the garlic, ensuring that the cloves are intact and whole, cut the stems.
2. Wash and rinse the garlic, then blanche for 3 minutes, before placing in ice-cold water to cool quickly.
3. Wash the beets, peel and cut into slices.
4. Place the garlic and beets into a sterile jar.
5. Boil the spices, sugar and salt for 5 minutes, add vinegar when done.
6. Pour the contents of the pot into the jar with the garlic and beets, screw on lid and place in a dark space for cooling.
7. When cooled, place in a fridge. The exotic color will appear in 3-4 weeks and the garlic will be ready for consumption.
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