asafoetida

An IntroductionAsafoetida is an extremely pungent aromatic spice obtained from the rhizomes of spices 'ferula' or giant fennel. In fact, it is is a hard aromatic resinous gum collected from certain species of giant fennels, plants of the genus ferula. It is available in blocks or pieces as a gum and more frequently as a fine powder, sometimes crystalline or granulated. Asafoetida is commonly used as a flavoring or spice in Persian and Indian cooking or as a condiment to be sprinkled over food after it has been cooked.It is called devils ’ dung because of its strong pungent smell due to the presence of sulfur compounds. The word asafoetida is believed to have gotten its name from the Persian word aza (mastic resin) and a Latin word foetida meaning stinking.Besides being used as a spice, asafoetida also possess many medicinal properties. For centuries, it has been widely usedfor simple digestive problems such as gas, bloating, indigestion and constipation. It was believed that asafoetida enhanced singers voices. Although very reasonably priced today, in ancient times it was a precious and expensive condiment.Botanical Description & OriginAsafoetida is an herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2 m tall, with stout, hollow, somewhat succulent stems 5-8 cm diameter at the base of the plant. It has finely toothed leaves, clusters many white or yellow flowers in large compound umbels and a hollow stem growing from a fleshy taproot. It is the root that produces the spice.A native to Iran, Asafoetida is commercially cultivated in Iran, Afghanistan and parts of India and Pakistan. In India, it is grown in Kashmir and in some parts of Punjab. The two main varieties of asafoetida are Hing Kabuli Sufaid (Milky White Asafoetida) and Hing Lal (Red Asafoetida). Even though most of the world’s production of asafoetida comes from the Middle Eastern regions of Iran and Afghanistan, India is the major consumer of this spice. Spice DescriptionThe smell of asafoetida is extremely unpleasant, likeconcentrated rotten garlic, but in cooked dishes, it delivers a smooth flavor, reminiscent of leeks. Its bitter taste and strong disagreeable pungent odour is due to the presence of sulphur compounds therein. It is available in three forms ie. ‘Tears’, ‘Mass’ and ‘Paste’. ‘Tears’, is the purest form of resin, rounded or flattened, 5 to 30 mm in diameter and a greyish or dull yellow in colour. Asafoetida is a hard resinous gum, grayish-white when fresh, darkening with age to yellow, red and eventually brown. It is sold either as lumps or in powdered form. The former is the most common form of pure asafoetida.Asafetida products are:Bitter sheer (hingda)sweet sheerdried sweetXL