Botanical Name Ferula asafoetida
As a culinary spice used in cooking it is generally blended with Fenugreek, equally ground, as Asafoetida is considered to be just too strong on its own.
Asafoetida is also known as devil’s dung, stinking gum, asant, food of the gods and giant fennel.
It is a species of Ferula or fennel by another name. It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2 m tall, with stout, hollow, somewhat succulent stems 5-8 cm diameter at the base of the plant. The leaves are 30-40 cm long, tripinnate or even more finely divided, with a stout basal sheath clasping the stem. The flowers are yellow, produced in large compound umbels.
Asafoetida’s English and scientific name is derived from the word for resin (asa) and Latin foetida, which refers to its strong sulphurous odour.
Its pungent odour has resulted in its being called by many unpleasant names; thus in French it is known (among other names) as Merde du Diable (Devil’s faeces); in some dialects of English too it was known as Devil’s Dung, and equivalent names can be found in most Germanic languages (e.g. German Teufelsdreck), also in Afrikaans as Duiwelsdrek and also Finnish Pirunpaska or Pirunpihka. In Turkish, it is known as the Devil’s Herb. In many of the northern Indian languages (Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali) it is known as hing or “Heeng”. A related name occurs in many Dravidian languages (e.g. Telugu Inguva, Kannada Ingu), but Tamil perungaayam and Malayalam kaayam come from a different root.
The spice is used in food as a condiment and in pickles and is generally blended with finely ground fenugreek as Asafoetida gum, is in itself, too strong to be used in a culinary sense.
Its odour is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers; otherwise the aroma, which is nauseating in quantities, will contaminate other spices stored nearby. However, its smell becomes much milder in cooking and presents an onion-like taste. Some claim that the use of Asafoetida in a marinade or coating for fried fish eliminates the strong smell usually left behind after frying. In India, it is used especially by the trader caste of the Hindus and by adherents of Jainism, who are not allowed to eat onions.
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Mar 8, 2018
Dec 21, 2017