February 9, 2018

Asafoetida – A complete Guide on Benefits, Cooking, Buying and Storing

Post by Admin

Asafoetida – An Odd Smelling Spice with Unique Benefits

One of the most popular Indian spices in almost every Indian household, however little less known in the Western world!

I call it odd smelling, because unlike other spices which make you go ‘aaaahhhh’ this spice will make you go ‘yuucccckkkk’ .

Its a gum from the sap of the roots or stem of a giant fennel like plant species. They come in solid gum like rock form or powdered variety.

Setting its aroma factor aside this is a must-have spice in most vegetarian households and extensively used in many vegetarian dishes.

The overpowering aroma reduces considerably during the cooking process.

It is used as a replacement for garlic and onion in dishes.

Other Names

English – Asafoedita, Asafetida

Indian – Hing, heeng

German –  Asant, Stinkasant, Teufelsdreck, Asafötida

French – Asa-fœtida, Asa-fétida, Férule persique, Merde du diable, Ase fètide

Flavour Profile of Spice

Asafoedita is a very pungent, bitter and heavy spice when uncooked or in raw form. It smells almost like sulfur.

The taste considerably changes when added and cooked in a dish to replicate the taste and smell of garlic and onions.

This is the reason for its popularity in many vegetarian households in India especially those who do not consume root vegetables. (know as Jains)

The Uses of Asafoetida

The most important thing to keep in mind when cooking with Asafoedita is to use it sparingly.

A little imparts a strong taste so a pinch or half a tsp to a serving of 4-6 is advisable.

There are different ways to use this spice for cooking. You can either add it directly in hot oil (tempering method), in between the cooking process along with other ingredients or adding it to some other liquid such as water, tamarind pulp, tomato juice etc. 

Few also advocate soaking it in a small amount of water before using it for cooking as it brings out the stronger taste.

I advise you to give this spice a try especially if you enjoy eating vegetarian food or on a gluten free diet or are intolerant to garlic and onions.

It may surprise you to know that this spice is used in many popular Indian spice blends which you may already be using such as Chat Masala, Sambar Powder, few curry powder recipes as well!

You can add it to lentil or vegetable soups, a dash added with other spices for making a spice rub. Other than cooking it can also be used as a pickling spice.

Read about 28 Essential Indian Spices and How to Use Them for Cooking. 

Asafoedita uses and benefits

Benefits of  Asafoetida  

Combats Flatulence – Asafoetida soaked in water, made into a paste and rubbed onto tummies as been an age old Ayurvedic remedy to relieve flatulence in babies, toddlers, children and adults.

Helps to eliminate respiratory problems – Asafoetida paste can also be applied on chest to alleviate symptoms such as asthma, cough and cheat infection

Aids digestion –  Adding a pinch of asafoetida to food that causes bloatiness in the stomach such as lentils, legumes, cauliflower, cabbage, raddish etc helps to make digestion faster and easier.

A good substitute for Onion or Garlic allergies or intolerance  – Asafoetida is a very good alternative to replicate the flavour and taste of onion and garlic. So good for those who are intolerant to the two.

Reduces skin infection – You can also use asafoetida paste on to pimples, insect bite and other minor skin problems to reduce inflammation and itchiness and speed up healing.

Spice Buying Guide

There are two different forms of asafoetida available. One that comes in a solid form that is brown in colour while another in a powder form mostly yellow in colour.

The more popular of the two is the powdered yellow variety as its easier to use for cooking and has a much milder aroma.

You can buy it in larger quantity and store it for later use or small quantities in bottles or jars.

Recommended Products

UK and rest of Europe 

Asafoetida health benefits

Buy Asafoedita  From The British Corner Shop for Worldwide Delivery 

Asafoedita Powder to buy

 Buy From Wholefoods Online UK 

US resident 

How to Store Asafoetida

As asafoetida has a very powerful smell, its best to store it in an airtight container in a slight distant from other spices.

Store it away from any direct light and heat.

Make sure that the lid is tightly sealed or you can put it in another plastic container or bag. The reason for this is that the oils in asafoetida are very volatile and can overpower your entire spice drawer if not secured well.

Well stored and packed asafoetida powder will keep its character and flavour for almost a year.

Best Food and Spice matching

Asafoetida powder is primarily used for vegetarian dishes and goes well with most vegetables, legumes, lentils, rice and other spices.

Best food pairing: beans, cauliflower, cabbage, chicken, curry, eggplant, ginger, lamb, lentils, peas, potatoes, rice, soups, stews, green leafy vegetables, orange and red vegetables

Best spice pairing:  cumin seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon,  cloves, coriander seeds, dry chilies, turmeric

Spice Substitute for Asafoetida

If asafoetida is not your thing or the recipe calls to add it, then you can substitute it with onion powder or garlic powder.

Fresh garlic, onions, shallots or leeks are also other options.

You may also like to read about the Best Spice Substitutes for Hard to Find Indian Spices 

Easy Recipes with Asafoetida to Try

KOBI BATETA NU SHAAK (Cabbage stir fried with simple spices)

 Buy Spices Online

Avail the convenience to get a range of spices, special ingredients and regular grocery delivered straight to your door without any hassle.

UK and Rest of Europe Residents  –  British Corner Shop, the official partners of Waitrose UK with economic worldwide delivery

US Residents –  Thrive Market ( Get 20% off with your first 3 orders )

Your Views and Recipes 

Please do leave your comment if you think I may have missed out on something.

I love to hear your kitchen adventures so please share any recipes made with Asafoedita that you love.

And as always if you think this article deserves more eyes then please do share by clicking the share and/or save buttons.