What is Asafoetida?
Asafoetida or Ferula asafoetida, pronounced Ass-a-feh-te-dah, is the dried and powdered resin from a tree from the Umbelliferae family (same as fennel and celery). Also known as hing, asafetida, jowani badian, inguva, kayam, stinking gum, food of the gods and “devil’s dung,” asafoetida is native to the deserts of Iran and mountains of Afghanistan but today is grown all over Pakistan and India.
It’s most well-known trait is its offensively pungent scent, (hence the nickname stinking gum) and is made from the white resinous sap which turns dark brown upon drying. In dishes, asafoetida has an earthy flavour that can be described as a combination of strong onions and truffles.
Asafoetida comes in powdered form and whilst it isn’t commonly used in Australia you will often find it listed in the ingredients in vegetarian curries and Indian cooking
as a substitute for garlic and onion.
Health Benefits of Asafoetida
Asafoetida has been used as a medicinal herb for many centuries. Some people drink it in tea rather than cook with it to reap all of its health benefits. Some of its health benefits include:
- Calms upset stomachs
- Relieves headaches and migraines
- Alleviation of cold symptoms
- Help with anxiety issues
- Helps chronic fatigue
- Cures yeast infections
- Helps with bloating, painful gas and flatulence
Many centuries ago, asafoetida was used as a contraceptive
to cause miscarriages so it is strongly recommended that this herb is avoided for women who are pregnant, looking to become pregnant and breastfeeding.
Cooking with asafoetida
When cooking asafoetida powder it is recommended that you use a pinch per 250g of the main ingredient. For example, if you are using 1kg of vegetables use four pinches of asafoetida. To make the most of its extraordinary flavour heat it in hot oil for five to ten seconds before adding the remainder of the ingredients.
Cauliflower curry (kadhi)
Don't have any cauliflower? don't stress. The beauty of this flavour-packed vegan curry is that it can be made with all kinds of different vegetables! Get the full recipe.
Where to buy Asafoetida
You can buy asafoetida in most spice houses and specialty stores, due to the complexity handling asafoetida it is often mixed with some form of starch. It is also available online from the following stores:
: $4.30 for 30g
The Spice House
: $4.99 for 65g
: $6.95 for 40g
The Spice People
: $3.45 for 40g
How to store
Due to its extraordinary smell extra care must be taken when storing asafoetida. Once opened close the lid as soon as possible and keep in an airtight container. If the aroma escapes you’ll know about it as your house will have a pungent garlic scent.