There are many spices that are part of Indian cuisine, which often find mention during discussions and are written about. For example, turmeric, cloves, black pepper etc. But asafoetida or hing as it is known in Hindi, is relatively less spoken about. One wonders why, since it works so well on 3 levels; health benefit, aroma and flavour!
Asafoetida has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it good for stomach in general and aids digestion. Thus, it becomes an almost essential part of cooking especially for little heavier Indian dishes like ‘Chole’ (White chickpea), ‘Black Urad dal’ (black gram lentil). In general too, a small pinch of asafoetida is a good addition in most dishes.
This spice has a wonderful, strong aroma. Many believe the stronger the aroma, the better would be the quality of asafoetida, besides of’course other aspects that help assess it. A small pinch is sufficient to add in your cooking, as too much quantity can make the dish somewhat bitter. Asafoetida adds a nice flavour to the entire dish, thereby uplifting and supporting other spices that enhance the taste. It is mostly used in lentils, curries and gravy based dishes.
Asafoetida is a great example of how something used in such small quantity can be so impactful in your cooking and food; be it its anti-inflammatory quality (which is just one of the many other benefits) or the fragrance it adds to the dish. It truly is the unsung hero ingredient of Indian cuisine, one that should be part of the kitchen.