Food - Drink
The Staple Indian Spice You Should Have In Your Pantry
Spices are the heart and soul of Indian cooking, yet many Americans would have trouble naming Indian spices other than turmeric, cumin, or curry powder, which is actually a blend of different spices. It wouldn’t be surprising if you didn’t know about the spice commonly praised by Indian chefs — asafetida.
Asafetida, known as hing in Hindi, originated in Iran and Afghanistan rather than India, and is derived from the resin of ferula, a type of plant in the same family as celery and fennel. In addition to its culinary uses, asafetida is also used in traditional herbal medicine for its wide array of ameliorative properties.
Asafetida has a very strong smell likened to sulfur and onions when raw, so it’s important to cook the spice before using it and not sprinkle it on at the end like salt or pepper. Cooking the spice makes its smell disappear and the spice takes on a mild, but complex, flavor that elevates the flavors of other spices.
It can be hard to find asafetida in the U.S. since it’s not commonly found at grocery chains, but you’re bound to find it at a specialty Indian grocery or online. According to Bon Appétit, make sure to store your asafetida powder in an airtight container as the strong smell can overwhelm your pantry.