If you love Indian foods then you must have got the taste of Asafoetida, a spice with sulfur like smell and a savoury taste. It is commonly used in various Indian and Iranian cuisine particularly in dals, curries and meat dishes
What is Asafoetida ?
Asafoetida ( Hing) is a spice extracted as a resin(gum) from the roots or rhizomes of ferula herbs ( Ferula assafoetida).
It is also known as Devils Dung, Stinking Gum or Javoneh-i- Badian owing to its pungent smell. But also referred to as ‘Food of God’s’ due to its several benefits.
Where is Asafoetida Grown?
Asafoetida grows in excessive cold regions having dry climate. The plant is native to mountains of Afghanistan and cold deserts of Iran and are found naturally there.
Iran and Afghanistan are major producers of the spice and is also cultivated at a small scale in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Balochistan.
Meanwhile India alone accounts for consumption of about 40 % of the total production worldwide . A recent data reveals that India imported 1200 tonnes of raw Hing( Asafoetida) amounting to about 600 crores ₹.
How Asafoetida got popular ?
Alexander the Great( ancient King of Macedonia,Greece) it is credited for bringing asafoetida in to limelight. After his expedition trip from Persia ( Iran), his associates claimed about a herb having similar taste of African Silphium who brought it to Europe and became popular there. Actually Silphium is a plant of same family with similar characteristics of Asafoetida but during the course of time the Silphium was replaced by Asafoetida and got extinct.
What are its uses?
As a spice
It is used as a flavour enhancer resembling the smell of Onion, Garlic and leeks. It gives a combined taste of salty, sour, spicy and to some extent sweet also.
The asafoetida has its name in several traditional medicine practices such as Ayurveda and Unani. It is naturally being used since old-age in different parts of the world as a home remedy for many difficulties.
Health benefits of Asafoetida
- Helps cure digestive problems
It is an excellent abdominal pain reliever. The asafoetida is more popularly used to treat indigestion bowel problems
- Reliever in Kidney problems
The asafoetida has diuretic properties and very beneficial for people with nephrotic disorders.
- Releives Menstrual Pain and Problems
With ability to thin blood it reduces menstrual cramps and thereby reliving you from menstrual pain. In addition it also releases progesterone hormone wich aides in increasing blood flow with much ease.
- Has Aphrodisiac Benefits
It helps in inducing excitement in both male and female
- Treatment for Respiratory Problems
It is a potent respiratory stimulant and releives chest congestion. It is widely used as an effective treatment for asthama, bronchitis and whooping cough. Moreover a inch of it in hot water is used to treat common cold and release phelgm.
- Anti Microbial Properties
Asafoetida has anti bacterial antifungal and antiviral properties. In fact it was used to treat Spanish Influenza virus during 1918 pandemic and is also used for swine flue treatment.
- Beneficial for diabetics
Studies have revealed that it can lower blood sugar level to a great extent and can be consumed by diabetes patients to keep their sugar level in control.
- Treats Acne and Pimples
Its anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties helps to treat acnes and Pimples. It is also highly beneficial for skin health and one can apply it as a paste in face.
Ferula Assafoetida ( Asafoetida) plant Characters
Ferula Assafoetida is a plant of family umbelliferae which also includes carrots. The plants are carrot like herbs with yellow Flowers. The spice Asafoetida is derived as latex from the rhizomes of the plant. The characteristic taste and odour of Asafoetida is due to presence of organosulfide compounds.
How to use Asafoetida while Cooking?
Asafoetida is commonly available in powdered form or sometimes as crystals.
For home use or for cooking purpose the marketed produce is diluted with grain flour or as a solution in liquid form. You cannot use concentrated one for cooking as it is highly pungent . A pinch of Asafoetida powder can replace Onions and Garlics but you have to take care of excess use. To use Asafoetida while cooking you must first heat the oil in the pan and add asafoetida to it and cook for few minutes.
Types of Asafoetida available in market
There are two types of asafoetida powders
It is a pure form of grounded crystals. It must be carefully used as it has high pungency.
The yellow one is used for cooking as it has been already diluted with flours or Turmeric powder for your use. Be careful to use according your taste.
The price at retail rate for 100 g of Asafoetida ranges from 1.2$ – 1.5$ (80-150 ₹). Similarly for a kilogram pack it will cost 12$-15$.
Asafoetida is one of the most demanded spices worldwide not only as a cooking spice but also for its varied medicinal properties. In other hand the growing requirements for the crop makes it a rare commodity and only some countries are major traders of the spice.