Spices

Asafoetida

Price: $3.90

  • Weight 50 g
  • Gluten Free No
  • Country of origin India
  • Brand The Spice Trader
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This spice is not gluten-free.   In addition to asafoetida, it contains rice flour, gum arabic, turmeric , and wheat flour. All our other spices are gluten free.

Botanical name   Ferula asafoetida   ▪   Family name   Umbelliferae

Asafoetida - also known as Hing - is a dried, resinous gum obtained from the stems and rhizomes of a perennial plant from the parsley and carrot family. The plant grows to a height of about 4 m in huge natural forests. Asafoetida is most widely available as a powder, typically mixed with a starch or gum Arabic to keep it from lumping and turmeric to provide colour.

Native range   Iran, Afghanistan, Northern India

Major producers   Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan

Harvesting   Just before the asafoetida plant flowers in summer, the stalks are cut and the earth scraped away to expose the large taproots which are also cut. A milky latex exudes, and this hardens and darkens to a reddish-brown on exposure to air. After a few days the dried gum is scraped off and this process of cutting and collecting the gum continues for about 3 months, with the best plants yielding up to 1 kg during this time.

Taste and aroma   In its raw state, asafoetida has an unpleasant smell and the taste is bitter, musky, and acrid. However, the flavour becomes pleasantly onion-like when this spice is briefly fried in hot oil.

Culinary uses   Used mostly in Indian vegetarian dishes, it is particularly appreciated in the diet of the Brahmin and Jain sects, where the use of onion and garlic is prohibited. In western and southern India, it is a common ingredient in curries and pickles. Asafoetida should always be used sparingly and can be added to any cooked dish where garlic would be appropriate.

Other uses   Asafoetida is a useful antidote for flatulence, which accounts for its popularity with Indian vegetarian cooks who use generous amounts of pulses.

Historical uses   Early records mention that Alexander the Great carried this spice west in 4 BC, and it was commonly used as a flavouring in the cuisine of ancient Rome.

Storage   Solid asafetida keeps for several years while the powdered form lasts for about a year.

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