Asafoetida (Hing) Tree

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Uses

This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickling. It plays a critical flavoring role in Indian vegetarian cuisine by acting as an umami enhancer. Used along with turmeric, it is a standard component of lentil curries such as dal, sambar as well as in numerous vegetable dishes, especially those based on potato and cauliflower. Kashmiri cuisine also uses it in lamb/mutton dishes such as Rogan Josh [5] It is sometimes used to harmonize sweet, sour, salty, and spicy components in food. The spice is added to the food at the time of tempering. Sometimes dried and ground asafoetida (in very small quantities) can be mixed with salt and eaten with raw salad.

In its pure form, it is sold in the form of chunks of resin, small quantities of which are scraped off for use. The odor of the pure resin is so strong that the pungent smell will contaminate other spices stored nearby if it is not stored in an airtight container. Many commercial preparations of asafoetida use the resin ground up and mixed with a larger volume of other neutral ingredients, such as gum arabic, wheat flour, rice flour and turmeric. The mixture is sold in sealed plastic containers with a hole that allows direct dusting of the powder. Asafetida odour and flavour become much milder and much less pungent upon heating in oil or ghee. Sometimes, it is fried along with sautéed onion and garlic.

Asafoetida is considered a digestive in that it reduces flatulence. It is, however, one of the five pungent spices generally avoided by Buddhist vegetarians.

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Description

Asafoetida is the English name for the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, a perennial herb that grows 1 to 1.5 m (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall. It is also known as food of the gods, devil’s dung, jowani badian, hing, hengu, ingu, kayam, and ting.

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