Assam start-up promotes black garlic for its multiple health benefits

Rich in many vitamins and minerals, black garlic is actually the fermented form of the raw garlic.

Black garlic is not a new concept in the world of food but a product not promoted as a snacking item with multiple health and wellness benefits in the Northeast.
Black garlic is basically raw garlic that has been fermented under controlled high-temperature, high-humidity conditions for several weeks, leading to changes in its colour and flavour.
The fermentation process restores the nutrients and reduces the strong flavour and smell of garlic, which makes it easy to consume and more healthy than raw garlic.
It also significantly increases the antioxidant activities of garlic. In fact, antioxidants in black garlic promote heart, liver, brain health, support healthy cholesterol, balance blood sugar and blood pressure apart from having potential anti-cancer properties.
 Trailukya Dutta
Image: Trailukya Dutta
Antioxidants have protective effects against cell damage and disease. This is partly because allicin, the compound that gives garlic its pungent odour when crushed, is converted into antioxidant compounds like alkaloids and flavonoids as black garlic ferments.
According to health experts, the antioxidants and nutrients present in black garlic can effectively lower the triglycerides level in the blood and manage sugar as well as help in managing weight.
To add to its multiple benefits, unlike raw garlic, black garlic has no pungent odour and can even be consumed as a mouth freshener. It supports the immune system, enhances food flavour and texture and compliments many food recipes as well.
Black garlic has various minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.
Now, a start-up firm in Assam has ventured into the less trodden path of promoting a unique item such as black garlic as not just a health product but a commercially-viable local snacking item.
But Trailukya Dutta had to leave a lucrative job spanning 15 years in the food industry in New Delhi, to set up Tholua Pratisthan Pvt Limited, a Guwahati-based start-up registered in 2018.
The Black Garlic
Image: The Black Garlic
Dutta has also spent much of his work time in making field visits across Biswanath, Kamrup (Boko), Dhemaji and Dibrugarh districts, making field visits and giving demonstrations among farmers
"It was a risk taken at that time... But my mission was to urbanise ethnic and rural functional food in Assam and the Northeast, with black garlic being one such unique food item in our list. There are more to come which we will launch at the appropriate time," Dutta informed Fit-Northeast here on Friday.
Over the past three to four years, Tholua has carved a niche for itself in the urban markets with products of the whole garlic available more or less in all department stores in Guwahati.
"Our products are now tried and tested. Slowly but surely, we will launch by-products such as black garlic mayonnaise, chips, sauce, chocolates, puree, pickles, et al" the entrepreneur says.
But what motivated him to try black garlic?
"In Assam, garlic has still not been cultivated as a high-yielding commercial crop. There has been no focus on this aspect as people only cultivate for kitchen use or random sales. Till date, garlic is imported from states such as Madhya Pradesh," he says.
Dutta has also spent much of his work time in making field visits across Biswanath, Kamrup (Boko), Dhemaji and Dibrugarh districts, making field visits and giving demonstrations among farmers.
The packaging of the Black Garlic
Image: The packaging of the Black Garlic
"We have been telling our farmers associated with us that a change in the cultivation process, such as growing the crop by way of mulching with water hyacinth (pani meteka) can enhance crop productivity by about four times. Next year, we will distribute single-touch garlic manufacturing machines among farmers," Dutta informed.
So, basically, black garlic apart from its health and wellness benefits is also impacting the lives and livelihoods of farmers engaged in the value chain, he added.
Experts and scientists from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) (Pusa, New Delhi), and Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat have guided the start-up so far in the entire exercise of making the product better and viable.
Since ages, black garlic has been a part of pan-Asian cuisine and over the past few years it has turned out to be fad among health enthusiasts for its medicinal and immunity-boosting properties. Black garlic is added in soups, condiments to enhance the taste and give it a different sweet-savoury flavour.

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