Asafoetida as you know it
Ever wondered about the origins of Hing?
Asafoetida, commonly known as “Hing” or “Perangayam” is obtained from the root of the Ferula plant, that grows in the arid regions of countries like Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, amongst others.
Although not conventionally obtained, it is one of those earthy ingredients you will need in your kitchen, once you have discovered its true piquant qualities.
It is obtained in the molten form and later processed, as hing in its raw form may be detrimental to consume. Different varieties of asafoetida are mixed, depending upon their unique aromas. They are then mixed with flour (maida) and edible gum to create an emulsified product. This is later processed and made available in the form of lumps or powder.
What is so intriguing about this spice is that it is extremely pungent when raw, but as soon as it is cooked in fat, it becomes subtle and aromatic. It almost teaches you not to judge too soon.
Hing could rightly be called the supporting Star of your kitchen. Add a pinch of this spice to oil along with your favorite spices, and it will blend in the backdrop, bringing out enhanced flavors of other spices. A prototype of this is “Sambhar powder.” Sambhar powder is the main component in a south Indian and Srilankan stew. A piece of hing (lump) is cooked in oil, along with other whole spices and then blended through a food processor. It is something to try at home.
A powdered form of hing is also available.
Laljee Godhoo and Co created this type of compounded Asafoetida in the 1980s. The idea to create this form of dehydrated powdered lumps was for the sake of convenience and to create more subtlety in flavor. It is ideal for everyday use in Tadkas, ‘Farsan’ and curries.
Further, the use of hing is not limited solely to these dishes. Hing may be more versatile than previously assumed.
* See the section on recipes for further details*
Uses Of Hing
- Asafoetida is useful as a digestive spice that has the additional benefit of lowering cholesterol and reducing gas. To use hing effectively to cure gas: add a quarter of a teaspoon hing to one glass of buttermilk or warm water, and consume.
- Asafoetida is recognized as a laxative and hence reduces the risk of constipation.
- Fighting influenza: Asafoetida was used in 1918 to fight the Spanish influenza pandemic. Asafoetida may serve as promising lead compounds for new drug development against influenza A (H1N1) viral infection”.
- Remedy for asthma and bronchitis.
- A folk tradition remedy for children’s colds: It is mixed into a pungent-smelling paste and hung in a bag around the afflicted child’s neck.
- Anti-epileptic: Asafoetida oleo-gum-resin has been reported to be anti epileptic in classical Unani, as well as ethnobotanical literature.
- Antidote for opium.
Ayurveda and Hing
Asafoetida was one of the most commonly prescribed herbs in the 19th century in the treatment of hysteria and for many symptoms associated with mood swings and depression,or in ayurvedic terms “Asafoetida is a grounding herb that can therefore balance an overactive, over emotional, turbulent system”.