Water-Sautéed Onions or garlic

Water-Sautéed Onions or garlic

Many, many recipes call for sautéing onions or garlic as a primary step in the recipe. If you have certain kinds (kapha, pitta or āma types) of heart disease, or high pitta or kapha, or it is springtime (a time that tends to increase kapha) and you want to eat particularly light, and you and your health care practitioner agree that you should avoid or reduce your oil consumption, water sautéing can be a swell alternative to sautéing with oil, and a way to reduce oil in your daily diet.

This recipe isn’t intended to be complete in itself. It is intended to substitute for the part of a recipe that calls for sautéed onions or garlic.

Before I learned a way to water sauté that I like, I thought it was not possible to use onions in a savory dish without sautéing them and wind up with an acceptable final product. I found that NOT sautéing them would give the final dish an unpleasant (at least to me) raw-oniony sort of flavor. But, after several people close to me had heart attacks and were avoiding oils, I made a concerted effort to figure out how to make tasty food without oil. I have found this way of water sautéing is great for any soups, sautés and many sauces. It is often possible to simply substitute this method when a recipe calls for sautéed onions or garlic.

Here goes:

  • Cut your onion or garlic however you want to cut it.
  • Heat a heavy bottomed pot, and bring about 1/8th inch of water to a boil. Add the onions, and about a tablespoon of maple syrup (optional) and set to medium heat. Stir occasionally until the onions are translucent or the garlic is cooked or, if you are using both, add the garlic after the onion is translucent and then cook another minute or so. We also want the water to be gone.The maple syrup, while optional, helps the onions not stick to the bottom. If the onions are not translucent by the time the water is cooked off, then add a little more water until they are, but just make sure the water is cooked off before moving to the next stage of the recipe, so that whatever raw-onion flavor it might have had disappears with it.
  • Continue with the recipe.
  • If you would normally add cumin seeds, mustard seeds or other spices while onions are sautéing, you can dry fry them in another pan and then add them to the already water sautéed onions. It would probably work okay to dry fry them in the same pot that you are going to water sauté the onions and, when they are done popping or are sufficiently fragrant, add the water and then the onions, but I’ve always been a little concerned that then the spices would absorb some of that raw onion flavor I’ve been talking about.

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