The hero of our today’s tale is Hing, owing to the fact that India is the major consumer of this spice. Therefore, you can understand the prime importance of Hing in our cuisines and medicines. Let’s take you through its journey.

This Indian spice is the dried gum resin extracted from the taproot of Ferula, a perennial herb which is native of Iran and Afghanistan, but mainly cultivated in hilly regions of India.

Common Names:

Asafoetida, Food of the Gods, Devil’s Dung, Stinking Gum, Yang and sap (Kashmir), Hingu, Heeng, Inguva (Telugu), Kayam (Malayalam), Hengu (Orissa), Perungaayam (Tamil).

It’s Origin:

The origin of Hing dates back to the time of Alexander the Great. It was discovered by chance to substitute silphium – a precious spice of those times, which has extinct now. Though, Hing had similar properties, thus used in cooking and medicines. After the Roman ear, its use became rare in Europe, but still it is widely used in India for various purposes, even after being little costly.

Appearance, Aroma and Flavour:

It is the most pungent spice used in Indian cooking. Its unpleasant smell turns into a savory flavor similar to garlic and onion, when cooked in oil. Available in powdered (mostly) and lumps form. In its raw form, hing is a hard resinous gum block that turns grayish-white to brown color with age. While, it’s powdery form (commonly available in market) is dark yellow or light brownish in color.

It’s Use in Cooking:

Hing is mainly used as a substitute for garlic and onions by Jains and Brahmins, which decline using them. Also, it’s an important ingredient of Worcester sauce. It is even used in almost all Indian cuisines as tadka in dals and vegetables. In addition it adds an extra flavour to your pickles and chutneys. Used as preservative and tenderizer for meat in some countries. Can be sprinkled over salads too.

Health Benefits:

Asafoetida aids in digestive problems like gas, indigestion, bloating and constipation. Its helps in relieving migraine pain, respiratory disorders, blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Have anti-microbial properties so can be used as a pesticide. In addition, can be used for skin problems and vaginal infections. It has anti-viral properties, thus being tested for its effect in curing swine flu.

Take Away Tips:

  • The powdered hing available in the market is the mixture of its resin and rice flour to make its taste and smell bearable to eat.
  • Should not be consumed by pregnant women as it has contraceptive properties.
  • Always stored in an air-tight container and use it in minute quantity only.
  • Relieve your headache and migraine pain by drinking water mixed with pinch of hing.
  • Get rid of your common flu, cough and cold with this spice.
  • Two varieties of hing are available – Hing Kabuli Sufaid (creamy white, water soluble) and Hing Lal (red, oil soluble). So, choose it wisely!

26 thoughts on “A Tiptop Tale of Asafoetida (Hing)

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