Black garlic, a health product, can now be produced in Bangladesh, thanks to the research of Subodh Kumar Sarkar of Noakhali Science and Technology University (NSTU).
Subodh along with Jin Ichi Sasaki, a former professor of Japan's Hirosaki University of Health Sciences and microbiology professor Chowdhury Rafiqul Ahsan of Dhaka University, had been on the research since 2008 and found success this year.
They developed three types of black garlic.
Black garlic is made by heads of the garlic aged under specialised conditions. The bulbs are kept in a humidity-controlled environment at temperatures between 60 and 77 degrees Celsius.
The conditions are thought to facilitate the Maillard reaction, the chemical process that produces new flavour compounds responsible for the deep taste of seared meat and fried onions. The cloves turn black and develop a sticky date-like texture.
There are no additives, preservatives, or burning of any kind.
Black garlic is different from the fresh garlic due to its higher content of allicin and rich amino acids which are almost double the amount of antioxidants when compared to white garlic.
Subodh, associate professor and chairman of biochemistry and molecular department at NSTU, claimed that the types produced by them contained stronger protein-compounds compared to the already existing ones in the international market.
“Type one and two can work as strong inhibitors for tumours, colon cancer and bacterial infections. They have numerous medicinal benefits,” claimed Subodh, adding that “They work as antioxidants, lower the risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, enhance longevity and physical strength.
“In our research, we have found higher concentrations of flavonoids, alkaloids, saponin, tannin, cardiac glycosides and high sugar in all the three types compared to fresh garlic. The extracts of type one and two showed stronger antibacterial activity compared to the third one.”
The product with a milder scent and a sweet taste will appeal to those who avoid fresh garlic. It can be eaten as a fruit or a vegetable. It can be used for cooking and in salads, added the researcher.
Seeking patronisation from the government, he said production of black garlic on a large scale can open doors to businesses.
“The fermentation process can be run at home which will help the populace meet its nutritional requirements. Bangladesh can export the product in future,” he told The Daily Star, adding that Bangladesh-made black garlic with its higher protein components and lower price may become desired at the international market.
Black garlic was recently developed in Japan and Korea as a health product. In Thailand, it is touted to increase life expectancy.
For his research in Bangladesh, Subodh was honoured with the title of “Black Garlic Ambassador” in the third International Black Garlic Summit held in Hachinohe, Japan on September 6.
Shinichi Kashiwazaki, president of Black Garlic International Conference and Aomori Black Garlic Association of Japan, presented him with the accolades.
His findings were presented at the Fourth AFSA International Conference on Food Safety and Food Security held in Cambodia in August and at the Third International Black Garlic Summit held in Japan in September this year.