Asafoetida, amusingly called the stinking gum, is an odd spice that gives Indian and other cuisines their signature flavor.
Of all spices, asafoetida is one of the least known in the West, so it’s not used often. Yet, it’s incredibly versatile and prized for the heartwarming flavors it adds to food.
Chances are you’ve heard or read about asafoetida called another name, the Hindi term ‘hing.’ And if you have, you probably know about the spice’s pungent aromas that keep inexperienced cooks away from it.
Here’s all you wanted to know about asafoetida spice, what is asafoetida spice, what is asafoetida powder, and how to use it.
What is Asafetida?
Asafoetida is a resin or gum extracted from the root or rhizome of a plant called Ferula, which it’s closely related to celery.
The plant is native to Iran and Afghanistan, which are the leading asafoetida producing countries, and they also call it jowani badian. Their biggest customer is India, and although some asafoetida is cultivated in Kashmir and some parts of Punjab, most of the spice used in the Indian subcontinent comes from the Middle east.
It’s not the ferula plant that’s used in cooking, per se, but the resin extracted from its roots. Dried and grounded, it becomes a yellow, brownish powder with strong sulfur aromas reminiscent of rotten eggs.
When cooked, asafoetida becomes a real treat, adding to food flavors not dissimilar to onions and leek.
Asafoetida Health Benefits
Despite being used in traditional medicine for centuries. Many of the health claims surrounding asafoetida are still to be backed up by science. This hasn’t stopped followers of Ayurvedic medicine from considering it a reliable remedy for many illnesses.
- Asafoetida is a reliable source for antioxidants in the form of tannins and flavonoids. These compounds can protect cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
- Asafoetida is famous for aiding digestion, reducing bloating, irritable bowel, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Some researchers consider asafoetida to have antibacterial properties, anticancer effects, and even brain-protecting properties. These claims are yet to be conclusive on medical trials.
- Asafoetida powder is mostly safe for individuals consuming it regularly. It has a reputation for causing gases, yet, there is no adverse long term effect in consuming the spice.
Nutritional Value of Asafoetida
The ferula’s gum, resin, or latex, known as asafoetida, has an adequate nutritional value.
One hundred grams of powdered asafoetida can add 39mg of Iron, 50mg of Phosphorus, and an astounding 690mg of Calcium.
The root comprises mostly 68 grams of carbohydrates, representing around 50% of the spice, 4 grams of protein, and another 4 grams of dietary fiber. Asafoetida can be a great supplement to complement your diet.
Nutritional values add to the countless health benefits attributed to the pungent spice, and asafoetida’s flavorful properties in the kitchen are a big plus not to be underestimated.
How to Cook With Asafoetida?
Unlike other spices common in the Indian repertoire, Asafoetida can’t just be sprinkled over a dish. When uncooked, the spice is pungent and not pleasing.
You must cook asafoetida, more often than not, in ghee, to unleash its warm allium flavors that round up dishes like dal, roasted aloo gobhi, and matar paneer, amongst many other Northern Indian specialties.
Combined with coriander seeds, cardamom, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds, asafoetida becomes part of something else, the famous Indian spice blends.
Vegetarian dishes, meat, rice, stews, and everything in between benefits from the umami-like flavors of cooked hing or asafoetida powder.
Storing asafoetida spice correctly is paramount. The powder is highly aromatic and can permeate your whole pantry with sulfuric aromas quite hard to eliminate. Keeping your asafoetida in an airtight container is the best practice, and it has practically unlimited shelf-life.
Now You’re An Expert on Asafoetida Spice
Asafoetida powder is your friend, so don’t be afraid of its pungent personality. Stored correctly and used wisely, the spice can make your Indian-cooking projects taste like the real deal.
Once you start cooking with asafoetida, you’ll find it hard to stop. It’s amazing how a single spice can add to your food the authentic flavors of a nation. And who can say no to a well-made, perfectly seasoned Indian-inspired dinner?
You can find some good quality asafoetida powder at our Curated Shop
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