Asafetida Is Its Own Spice Cabinet

Asafetida is an underdog within the huge world of spices—maybe an inevitable destiny for a seasoning with the nickname “Satan’s Dung.” In its uncooked type, the important seasoning in lots of South Asian cuisines, together with Kashmiri, Nepali, and Tamil cooking, could be downright smelly, therefore the “fetid” in its title. However, when added to heat oil or ghee, its pungency dissipates and makes means for an fragrant and sophisticated taste with reminders of sautéed onions, braised leeks, and roasted garlic.

Asafetida is basically the dried and powdered sap of an herb, Ferula asafoetida, which is a part of the celery household and grown primarily in Iran and Afghanistan. Though asafetida may appear new or international to some, it’s been used for hundreds of years, beginning with the traditional Romans and transferring to Alexander the Nice and Central Asians, and there’s even been hypothesis that it could be one of many secret elements within the extremely popular British Worcestershire sauce. By centuries of commerce, it has change into a staple in most Indian kitchens, the place it's referred to by many various names, together with “hing” in Hindi. A tiny pinch, normally included within the tempering, or “tadka,” of a dish, presents all of the umami crucial so as to add complexity and depth to in any other case mellower elements, similar to lentils, greens, or rice dishes.

Rising up in a Kashmiri household in Toronto, Canada, hing was the second ingredient in lots of our conventional dishes, preceded solely by mustard oil. A bowl of haak, my favourite strategy to eat leafy greens as a baby, or a pot of rajma, a wealthy kidney bean stew, all the time began with a lightweight sizzle of asafetida earlier than my mother lowered the warmth to stop it from burning. In truth, a pinch of hing is a requirement in numerous regional cuisines throughout the Indian subcontinent, together with the meals of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Its efficiency may even act as a stand-in for onions and garlic; this serves as a culinary boon for the numerous members of the Jain and Hindu communities who attempt to keep away from onion and garlic often or altogether, for anybody looking for low-FODMAP aromatics, and for the hurried cook dinner who desires to skip a complete lot of chopping. As I found throughout faculty on days once I was notably busy, a sprinkle of asafetida on scorching olive oil may even be used to zhuzh up a jar of primary tomato sauce earlier than it’s tossed with pasta. However, since each pinch packs a punch, it’s greatest to make use of asafetida sparingly. Utilizing an excessive amount of, or including it utterly uncooked, can rapidly flip a dish bitter and off-putting.

Asafetida is normally bought in small jars like this one, and it’s not a nasty concept to retailer the container inside a second bundle or bag of some sort; I hold my bottle in a plastic Ziploc bag for further safety from leaks and to stop the pungent odor from permeating every thing in my spice cupboard. It’s a threat, nevertheless it’s a minor one in comparison with the umami payoff that’s all the time only a pinch away.

Asafetida 101

  • Asafetida could be discovered at most Indian and Pakistani grocery shops, or on-line here and on Amazon.
  • As a necessary spice in among the most well-loved rice dishes of Southern India, it’s no shock that asafetida makes an look on this yogurt rice recipe by Padma Lakshmi, this coconut rice recipe by Chitra Agrawal, or perhaps a traditional lemon rice.
  • Try this piece by Priya Krishna about why her cooking wouldn’t be the identical with out the spice. As she places it, “It makes Indian meals style extra Indian.”
  • A pinch of asafetida makes all of the distinction within the tempering of khaman dhokla, a steamed savory snack cake made with chickpea flour.
  • Since it's typically touted as a digestive support in Ayurveda, lentil dishes from all throughout India are incomplete with no fraction of a teaspoon of asafetida, together with this one by Barkha Cardoz and this spice mix for sambar by Chetna Makan.
  • A sprinkle of asafetida can be a should in easy, one-pan dishes like poha or the Mumbai avenue meals favourite vada pav.

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