Asafoetida Anyone?

poseyplanter(5A IL)August 4, 2007

Hi everyone!

I have taken an interest in Indian cooking lately and an experimenting with a recipe for Hot Lime Pickles. Yum!

There is one very strange ingredient: Asafoetida. Is anyone familiar with it?

I find a compounded powder of Asafoetida in a local grocery, but it also has wheat and other gum, etc. I have read on the Internet that the main ingredient is extracted from a root and compounded with other things.

I love to experiment with exotic ingredients, but the additives (including the undisclosed ones) in formulated powders give me some hesitation. I am wondering if I really need this stuff? I read that Asafoetida is used as a substitute for garlic. I wonder if garlic could be substituted for Asafoetida? Hmm.

Just curious to hear what you know about this strange herb...

Thank you for your replies!



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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

Re: Asafoetida (hing)

I too love eating Indian food, and after moving from Houston to where there are no Indian restaurants, I've had to learn to cook it. Therefore I've got about 6 to 8 Indian cookbooks. After consulting with them, I have found that basically the information you have found is true. It is suggested to use it in small quantities.

In The Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill he says that it is descended from the giant perennial fennels that grow wild in Afghanistan, Iran and northern India. He states that the asafoetida sap is collected and processed. There are two powdered types, a brown and a yellow which has turmeric added. He insists that it is what gives lentils, peas and beans their great flavor. Also that it is used in the spice blend "sambar powder".

To answer your question, why not buy some and try it sparingly to see if you like it. If not, you have only "ruined one meal". The next time I'm in Houston, I think that I'll buy some and try it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 8:47AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

To me, it tastes a bit like strong smelling cooked onions, but does have a distinct smell and taste. Because its an expensive spice/herb, it is usually dried and cut with corn starch.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 1:27PM
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poseyplanter(5A IL)

Hi ltcollins1949 & ksrogers,

Thank you for your replies:)

IÂve been looking in some shops and so far have not found anything that says it contains cornstarch. All the products I saw listed wheat or edible starch (which could be wheat). The problem with wheat is that I have some acquaintances/friends who are either allergic to wheat or cannot eat gluten.

For now, I bought one of the popular brands containing wheat. I will try it in the recipe and see if I think it can be substituted with garlic. If itÂs dispensable, I will do some more research to try to find a product that does not contain wheat.

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 9:47PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

The wheat and other fillers are there just to keep it from caking and make it pour more easily. You can also buy asafoetida in its uncompounded form, as a resin-like gum. It's very pungent, but adds a nice flavor to Indian dishes in the small quantities called for in recipes. Garlic isn't really a substitute ... but try out some recipes, and see what flavor combinations you like.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:08PM
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Has anyone tried to grow it? I remember reading about it in Herb Companion magazine many years ago, and I've always wanted to try it.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 9:08PM
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poseyplanter(5A IL)

Hi nygardener,

I saw the tears for sale, but the ingredients on the can listed wheat in those too. Maybe sometime I will find it without wheat.

The herb definitely has its own particular smell. The almost-done pickles are sitting on my table in a cloth-covered bowl. Occasionally I get a whiff. Definitely distinctive.

Hi coing,

I recall daisyduckworth recommending it in Cool and different herbs. Do a search to see how big the plant gets. If itÂs not too huge for your space, take a risk and plant it:) It will certainly be a conversation piece.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 11:01PM
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Does anyone know where can I get uncompounded asafoetida on the internet. My 2 year old is allergic to wheat and so I am not able to find one without wheat. I have used it all my life and am finding it difficult without it.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 4:02PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Spices Etc has it, and the binder is rice flour and gum arabic

Here is a link that might be useful: Spices Etc. web site

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 3:10PM
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Asian perennial with a stem from 2-3 metres tall and umbels of greenish flowers on top. Also called DevilÂs Dung, a reflection of its unpleasant sulphurous odour, and Food of the Gods.

Well, 'foetid' does mean smelly!

The stuff you use in cooking is a resin obtained by the roots of plants 4 years old. You're best to try and find a plant, rather than to try seeds, because seeds must be very fresh. The plant takes some years before it flowers and dies after flowering. Plants usually flower after about 5 years. The whole plant, especially when bruised, has an unpleasant smell like stale fish.

Here is a link that might be useful: asafoetida pix

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 8:13AM
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The asafoetida I use contains only asafoetida, rice starch and gum arabic (no wheat). It can be bought online - - At it can be found under 'Product Quickfind' under 'Find Spices'.
I use asafoetida because it keeps my body odour down so I can use natural, home-made deodorant rather than store-bought and thus avoid bringing any more plastic packaging into the world. :P
But the ayurveda science of India tells me that avoiding onions and garlic (that whole family of plants) tempers one's appetites for things outside oneself - - food, approval, attention, etc. - - and ayurveda recommends asafoetida instead.
I've heard the flavor, once cooked, described as resembling leeks. I find if I use too much, it can make the food a little bitter.

Here is a link that might be useful: frontier coop

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 12:34PM
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I first bought a bit of it years ago in the pure form, and placed it in my herb drawer in the bag I bought it in.

It filled my whole kitchen with its odd, foetid odor, and I had to place it in a better container.

I went back to work, and gave up on new recipe ingredients for awhile, but recently bought some in powdered form in a local Indian grocerette. The young woman working there was a vegetarian, and very enthusiastic about it--she told me how to add it to some of the vegetables I purchased in the store, and said that she added it to almost everything.

In my opinion, nothing else can take the place of a meat flavor as well as Hing, or Asafoetida. I think that garlic and onion can be a substitute, but they are not really comparable; the flavor and fragrance are quite unique, and if you live in the West,you have probably not experienced anything like it unless in a dish in an Indian restaurant.

I like to use it to add interest to soups--not only the pureed Indian-type ones with vegetables and lentils, but even to add a different flavor to canned soups! It really fills out the flavor of a meatless soup,if you find you like the flavor. In fact, that is probably the safest way to get to know it--in a canned soup--so that you don't add it to a main course you made from scratch without knowing how it will taste. Using it in a soup will also give you practice as to how much to use.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 1:56AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

When I lived in an apartment, the hallway always smelled similar to that spice. The lady across the hall used to do a lot of cooking with onions and garlic, which smell similar when they are sauted.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 12:31PM
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You know, KS, I have to agree--onions and garlic cooking together do resemble it a bit. I had some sliced garlic and green onions in a canned soup in my microwave last night and when I opened the micro door it did smell a bit like it! (I added some powdered Asafoetida and red pepper, anyway, though. ;o) )

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 11:37PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yes, its also got that mellow aroma of the onions and garlic being sauteed in somthing like butter. A very rich aroma, that would go good with things that you want to give a lot of oniony smell to.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 4:45PM
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poseyplanter(5A IL)

Hi everyone!

¡Wow! I did not expect to see this thread surface again. ¡¿What fun?!

Spoonlegs, Thanks for the info on the rice bound product at! That is exactly what IÂve been looking for!

Kewl beans (which of course will now be better AND wheat free for my friends who cannot eat wheat/gluten;)

Regards to all,

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 10:45PM
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I need this in plant form-I am allergic to rice and wheat.. i do have the space to actually grow the plant on my property.. Does anyone know where i can purchase a plant?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 10:45PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)
    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:45AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

FataMorgana, those are all good herb plant and seed sources, but none has asafoetida. I was unable to find plants on a search, either. Does anyone know of another source? How mature do the plants have to be to harvest the gum, and how hardy are they? Does anyone know of a source for the uncompounded gum or resin?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 12:00PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I didn't look since I figured the OP could check it out. I found it at Horizon Herbs, I didn't check the others but it may be there as well: Horizon Herbs: Devil's Dung

Try searches with its various names at google for sources. I used the botanical name and got the following. Try various other words in combination in the searches like "100%" or "pure" to get different results.


Here is a link that might be useful: Google Shopping Links - ferula assafoetida

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 12:13PM
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