I am looking for some alternative ways to season food. I am very familiar with currying, pesto, and chili. My difficulty is that each of these relies on onions, tomatoes and garlic.

What are some other ways to season food that don't rely on these three ingredients?

My wife is having difficulty with them during her pregnancy when in excess. At the same time she is having difficulty eating plain and bland foods. We also don't use any vinegar for its alcohol content.

  • 3
    Dear community, this question is something that will certainly cause many of us to come up with an idea for a random spice or condiment we find tasty. I would like to remind you that we don't accept big-list questions where each answer is as good as the next one, or the "best" answer can only be chosen by personal preference. So please, tame this impulse if you have it, and don't post it as an answer - if that's where the answers start going, we'd have to close the question and remove the answers. Instead, please try to give some better background explanation, and list general options.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 27, 2019 at 15:12
  • Cuddus George, you might also want to look into these substitution questions: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/2596, cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/9598, cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/3716
    – rumtscho
    Sep 27, 2019 at 15:16
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    I wouldn't describe onions or garlic as "seasoning", though that in no way invalidates your underlying question. Sep 28, 2019 at 18:23
  • With tomatoes, have you tried pealing them? My stepmum has a problem eating the skins of them but is fine when they are pealed (same for peppers)
    – Gamora
    Sep 30, 2019 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


Aliums (the garlic and onion family) can be a trigger of both allergies and food intolerance. Unfortunately, they're two of the most common flavorings in foods. There's already a question on here about removing aliums: Replacement for alliums?

Tomatoes, are a separate problem, but it's not particularly prevalent in Asian cooking, other than on the Indian sub-continent.

I'd recommend looking for Jain cooking (an Indian caste that doesn't eat anything that's grown below ground), as there are lots that don't use tomatoes.

You might also want to look for FODMAP-friendly recipes. It's a new-ish restrictive diet for people with severe food intolerance. It's not 100% alium free, though, as they allow garlic flavored oil (so long as you remove the garlic) and they allow the greens from the alium family. After you've been off aliums for some time and your wife isn't having any problems, you can try adding back one or the other and see if your wife can tolerate them.

As for your comment about vinegar -- sour is one of the under-appreciated flavors, and it can really help to perk up bland dishes. You might want to consider citrus juices, such as lemon or lime to add more flavor to dishes. Pineapple and other tropical fruits may also help. But I'd also be careful about too much acidity -- that might be why your wife has issues with tomatoes. (And if it is ... you might try finding yellow tomatoes at farmers markets, as they tend to be lower acid.)

  • Hi Joe, nice answer as always, +1! I wonder why you put a focus on Asian and Indian food at the beginning - is it generally your suggestion for allium free cooking, or is it that you read Journeyman's comments on his Indian background and mixed up the question for being Indian or Asian specific?
    – rumtscho
    Sep 27, 2019 at 16:03
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    It was just that Asian cooking tends to have less tomato. But Jain cooking (Indian) tends to have better options for alium free.
    – Joe
    Sep 27, 2019 at 17:20
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    For sour/acidity, tamarind is a staple in central asian cooking.
    – J...
    Sep 28, 2019 at 11:56
  • 1
    @J... : good point. And sumac in middle eastern cooking
    – Joe
    Sep 29, 2019 at 15:55

Just leave them out - there's a lot of techniques both western and asian that just ignore them. In a sense the 'trick' would be to work out what you need and what you need to avoid from each of those and work around them.

Rather than relying on those 'common' base ingredients - it might end up being a good idea experimenting with different ideas.

As an indian - I'd automatically think of spices - There's a bunch of spices that work well and wouldn't add heat (if not needed), though you might need to work out what your wife feels comfortable with. Stuff like cumin and pepper come to mind, but you could do interesting stuff with common western spices like basil and thyme as well. Basically there's just a lot of options depending on what you're cooking.

In indian cooking we often temper spices or dry roast them with just a touch of oil in a pan. This kinda removes the rawness in spices (which in addition to making them smell extra good, might help with palatability here). You can also prepare more than you need and use what seems appropriate adjusting to taste.

You don't need a massive amount of spice to make something good. Let the ingredients you can use speak for themselves. .

If you need acid - there's other fruits and vegetables that can do this. Lemon would give a good hit of sourness which vinegar and tomatos would do. You could add the sort of bulk tomato (or onion) might give with say a mirepox style thing.

So basically take what you know - try to work out how to swap it out on the dish - maybe with more than one thing and see if your wife likes it .

  • Just leaving out onions won't necessarily work. They often play an important role in thickening sauces (especially in Indian cooking). Sep 28, 2019 at 18:29
  • We use remarkably little onions. Tend to use dal or just veggies themselves for thickening Sep 28, 2019 at 18:32

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