Asafoetida (pronounced “ah-sah-FEH-teh-dah”), is also called asafoetida powder, asafetida, or compounded asafoetida powder.
The volatile oil content of Asafoetida averages 10-17%
What is Asafoetida Powder
Asafoetida Powder is a dried latex resin that comes from the taproot of giant fennel plants. Asafoetida’s name is derived from the Persian word aza, for resin and the Latin word foetidus, or rotten. The flavor is very strong, combining garlic and onion with almost meaty umami notes threaded through it. While it’s got a potent flavor, asafoetida, as its name indicates, is known more for its smell. In the most polite terms, the smell has been described as a cross between sulfur and rotten onions. To temper the smell our Asafoetida Powder is “compounded”—it is mixed with edible gum, rice flour, asafoetida and turmeric for color. This is the most common type used in cooking, as pure Asafoetida is so pungent it must be kept separately from other spices or it will overtake their odor and flavor.
The sulphur compounds that generate its smell are similar to the compounds that give alliums their aromatic pungency, which is why Asafoetida can serve as a substitute for garlic and onions. This is helpful to practitioners of the Jain religion, whose strict vegetarian diet based on a systemic embrace of non-violence across all levels of life forbids them from consuming root vegetables like garlic and onions.
History of Asafoetida
Asafoetida is native to central Asia, eastern Iran to Afghanistan, in ancient Persia Asafoetida was used as a condiment and called the “food of the gods”. Alexander the Great brought it into Europe after discovering what he thought was a close relative of the highly sought after, but very rare, silphium that could only be found up to that point in Northern Africa (modern day Libya). Silphium was used after as a seasoning. Asafoetida, while having a stronger odor than silphium became used as an easier to find substitute in cooking. The Romans used Asafoetida to flavor sauces and wines and called it Persian silphium. During the Middle Ages the French used it to seasoning mutton and after that time its use in Europe all but vanished. Today in Bengal and South India, Asafoetida is frequently used in vegetarian dishes.
Asafoetida is obtained mainly from the plant Ferula assa-foetida. This plant is native to Afghanistan but has no place in the cuisine of that country. The plant that produces Asafoetida grows in sandy, well-drained soils and does best in areas that are quite dry. It requires full sun for long hours and does better if the seeds are planted close to the surface. These plants can grow up to ten feet tall in some places and need about two feet in between them for adequate root growth. The roots, which are thick and pulpy, and the stems are drained for their resin-like gum. This hardens and becomes difficult to grind, so it is typically broken apart first by hammer and then by mortar and pestle.
Where is Our Asafoetida From?
What does Asafoetida Taste Like
Garlicky or oniony with umami undertones.
Why is asafoetida used in cooking
A staple ingredient in Indian cooking, Asafoetida is used in savory dishes, as a substitute for garlic and onions.
How to Use Asafoetida
Asafoetida is popular in South India and Bengal. It is widely used in vegetarian dishes and adds complimentary flavor to beans, lentils, and vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. In Indian cooking, it is often used when making temper dals, curries, upmas and rasam. It is fried in ghee, not oil, when used in Indian cooking. Some chefs insist that this spice has a mellowing effect on other spices, making the whole dish smoother and more uniform in flavor intensity. In this way, Asafoetida is believed to be a good background spice, not a main flavor. To get the most out of your Asafoetida, take a pinch or two and fry it in ghee, clarified butter, or oil for a few seconds to mellow the flavor and scent before adding it to your dishes. It can be used anywhere you would normally use onion and may become your new savory food secret ingredient for that extra umami boost.
It is great with brined or pickled fish and is an ingredient in many Worcestershire sauces. Asafoetida pairs nicely with nuts and grains, and complements spices like cumin, coriander, or turmeric. One of our favorite recipes that use Asafoetida powder is Rajma.
Can you Replace Garlic with Asafoetida
Asafoetida can be used in place of garlic in most dishes, though it may take some finessing to get the right amount. Asafoetida has a very strong presence in most foods if added too generously.
|Ingredients||Rice flour, edible gum, Asafoetida, turmeric, edible oil, and natural color|
|Also Called||Asafoetida powder, asafetida, or compounded asafoetida powder|
|Recommended Uses||Use in beans, lentils, and vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower and with temper dals, curries, upmas and rasam|
|Flavor Profile||Often described as garlicky or oniony with umami undertones|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||6-12 months|
|Country of Origin||India|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Non-GMO|
Hungry for More Information