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Also Known as
Asafetida, Hing, Perungayam
Asafoetida is said to have originated in Rome, and despite not being a native of India, it has been used in Indian medicine and cookery for ages. It is a resin that is ochre in colour and it is most widely used in its powdered or granulated form, which is usually yellow in colour. The resin is difficult to grate and is traditionally crushed using mortar and pestle. The most commonly available form these days is compounded asafoetida, which contains 30 per cent resin and 70 per cent gum Arabic and rice flour or maida.
Indian asafoetida from Kashmir is highly valued in the international market.
In the raw form, the smell of asafoetida can be quite irritating, but once cooked it changes in nature and imparts a very good aroma to the dishes.
How to Select
• Two main varieties are available, classified on the basis of their place of origin, flavour and colour: Hing Kabuli Sufaid (milky white asafoetida) and Hing Lal (red asafoetida). Choose the variety that suits your taste.
• Check the manufacturing and expiry date, packaging etc. before purchase.
• You can buy it in block form or in powdered form.
• It is used commonly in Indian cuisine for flavouring.
• It is added in minute quantities as a powder, or dissolved in water.
• Jains and other communities who shun the use of onion and garlic and use asafoetida as a substitute.
• Temper dals, curries, upmas, rasam etc using hing for an added flavour and aroma. It smells best with ghee than with oil.
• Dissolve powdered asafoetida in buttermilk and temper with curry leaves. It acts as a digestive aid.
How to Store
• Store asafoetida in an air-tight container as it has a pungent smell that can fill your cupboard!
• Also, since the smell lingers in the container a long time after it is emptied, try and use the same container month after month, or go for a disposable one.
• Asafoetida is used as a digestive aid and also reduces flatulence.
• It is also said to be helpful in cases of bronchitis and asthma.