What on earth is Asafoetida
?! This unusual spice is oft-maligned for its sulfurous odor, which gives little hint at the spice's true flavor. When cooked the aromas transform, leaving behind a rich and pleasurable taste of onion and garlic.
- Asafoetida is derived from a species of giant fennel, Ferula assafoetida. It is grown and produced in India, where we source our supply, as well as other regions including Iran and Afghanistan. The giant fennel plant from which it grows can be as much as 10 feet tall!
- Sap is harvested from slits in the bulb and dried into resin chunks. The resin is then ground and combined with one or more ingredients for color and/or consistency to make a usable compound powder. Turmeric, rice flour, and gum arabic are all common.
- In its raw form, and in most compound powders, asafoetida is gluten-free. Watch out for lower-quality varieties that can sometimes be diluted with wheat flour.
- Asafoetida has many names. It is sometimes known as "hing" or "food of the gods." Other less polite names exist for the smelly spice, too.
- Dating as far back as the Roman Empire, asafoetida was believed to have curative properties for maladies ranging from respiratory problems to hysteria.
Asafoetida is a fantastic spice for those seeking an adventurous new ingredient to explore! It's also a flavorful alternative to onions and garlic for those on the FODMAP diet, which focuses on eliminating certain osmotic carbohydrates. Be ready for the intense smell of its raw form, and keep it in a glass jar to avoid flavor leakage.