What is Hing?
Hing, also known around India as asafoetida, jowani badian, hengu, inguva, perungayam, is one of the most essential spices used in Indian cuisine. Native to the desserts of Iran and Afghanistan, asafoetida is extracted from the roots of a perennial herb called ferula and has a very strong pungent odour. In fact, the odour is so strong that asafoetida is usually stored in a separate airtight container to prevent the smell from influencing other spices. Cooking it in ghee or oil delivers a smooth flavour similar to fried onions.
Hing plays an extremely important role in South Indian cuisine by enhancing the flavours of the dish. In North Indian cooking, it is often used along with turmeric in various recipes like dal, chickpea curries, and different types of vegetable dishes based in potatoes and cauliflower. Asafoetida is usually quickly heated in hot oil and sprinkled on food. It is used in various vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes to enhance the flavour of the dishes. For Jain community in India, asafoetida is of utmost importance since they don’t consume onion and garlic.
How is Hing used in Indian cooking?
Hing brings together the various flavours of the dish and enhances the preparation. The spice balances and harmonizes all the sweet, sour, salty, and spicy components of the dish and gives the dish a unique texture. It plays an important side role in your cooking by adding value to your most important ingredients. Dried and ground hing can be mixed with salt and eaten with raw salads.
Here’s how you can easily use hing in cooking –
Asafoetida is mostly added at the time of tempering the spices.
Here’s the easiest way – Heat the pan and add butter or ghee (any fat), add a pinch of hing and let it simmer and cook in the butter until the flavour smoothens. You can now add the other spices and ingredients in your recipe.
But here is something that you must note:
Hing or Asafoetida is often confused with Monosodium Glutamate, commonly referred to as Ajinomoto – a kind of salt used widely in Chinese cuisine. Both are not the same!
Not just a spice!
Hing is such a wonderful element that apart from cooking it has found many uses in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and for other commercial purposes. It is widely used in fertiliser productions as a preservative and to prevent bacterial contamination in food. Asafoetida is also widely used in the traditional medicine sector and is often recommended as a preventive measure to influenza. Hing has excellent digestive properties and is often recommended by doctors to people suffering from constipation and digestive ailments.
With all these amazing qualities, it is fitting to call Hing a super food in its own right. It is one the most indispensable parts of Indian cooking and lifestyle and plays a rather underestimated role in our lives. We at Laljee Godhoo & Co. have since the last 125 years been the ambassadors of the benefits of Hing and have been pioneers in providing you with the best quality asafoetida in the market. So, this season pay special attention to this super spice Hing and don’t you be intimidated by its sulphuric odour. A pinch of LG Hing can do magic to your food.