Mahanandi

Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Asafoetida (Asafetida, Hing, Inguva)

Food blogging has opened a new way for me to meeting interesting people who also share my passion and philosophy in cooking. Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice is one such person. She belongs to the spice world and has a great knowledge about our traditional and ancient spices and herbs. I truly believe that we all could benefit from her knowledge. Through her periodical articles on Mahanandi, Anjali will be sharing the benefits and uses of various spices and herbs.
~Indira.

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Asafoetida (Asafetida, Hing, Inguva)

Asafoetida, Powdered Form
Asafoetida ~ Powdered Form

Asafoetida is a resinous gum that is extracted from the root and stem of genus ferula, a type of giant perennial fennels that is at least 4 yrs old. The stem/root of the plant is slashed and kept in shade while the sap seeps out and hardens. This dried, grayish-white gum is then scraped off which turns reddish and finally reddish-brown as it ages. The asafoetida that we buy in stores has only about 30 -40% of pure asafoetida and the rest is edible starch (rice or wheat flour) to make the powder more manageable. Sometimes gum arabic, turmeric and some additional color are also added to it.

In India, we use asafoetida in our pickles, as a substitute for garlic and of course, in our tadka/popu. The traditional popu/tadka process is incomplete without this spice. Asafoetida was introduced to the West by Alexander the Great in 4th century BC and was used in ancient Roman cuisine as a substitute for a North African plant named Silphium.

Ayurveda highly recommends including all six tastes in our meals. The six tastes are – salty, sour, sweet, bitter, pungent and astringent. Asafoetida comes under the pungent category. Foods and spices that are pungent stimulate appetite and improve digestion. Asafoetida is very helpful in alleviating the sensation of heaviness, fullness or bloating after a heavy meal. Asafoetida has extra heating properties and is used in Ayurveda to rekindle digestive fire. It is also supposed to act as a blood purifier.

Many of us know that a pinch of asafoetida with a glass of buttermilk helps reduce indigestion. But not many know that asafoetida is also used to alleviate toothache. Add a little lemon juice to asafoetida powder and warm this mixture a bit. Soak a cotton ball in this warm mixture and place it on the aching tooth. Or another remedy is to mix pure asafoetida powder and salt, place this mixed powder on the aching tooth. Asafoetida is also used by Homeopathy doctors to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

When it comes to cooking, asafoetida is a must for lentil dishes and curries with green leafy vegetables. Asafoetida is also used a lot for flavoring pickles like tomato, mango etc, and in sauces and is one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce. Adding asafoetida to popu/tadka results in a wonderfully complementary flavor. I also believe that this special spice adds relish to food.

An article on asafoetida is incomplete without a mention of Hingashtak, also known as Hingawastaka. It’s a mixture of 8 spices - asafoetida, black pepper, carom seeds (ajwan), cumin, ginger, pipli (Long Pepper), nigella seeds (Kalonji) and rock salt. In olden times, every family had its own variation of Hingashtak. My own version is a simple mixture of asafoetida, black pepper, ginger, cumin, ajwan and salt. Grind all these spices and mix with rice (squeeze a bit of lime juice if you want) and have just 2-3 morsels of this yummy rice. You can make tiny pills of the Hingashtak and have it before meal. Hingashtak is very heating (and hence aids digestion), so eat very little.


Asafoetida, Black Pepper, Ginger, Cumin and Ajwan ~ for Hingashtak

~ Guest Post by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice
Photo Credit : Indira Singari

If you have questions about asafoetida spice, please post them in comments section. Anjali would be glad to answer them for you. Thanks.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Herbs and Spices, Asafoetida (Inguva), Anjali Damerla (Thursday August 30, 2007 at 6:31 pm- permalink)

The New Home of Mahanandi: www.themahanandi.org

57 comments for Asafoetida (Asafetida, Hing, Inguva) »

  1. thanks for the info indira and anjali. just a quick question, should all spices be in equal qty (i am assuming hing will get to be too stong).also, can we pre-grind this and keep it in a bottle….thanks

    Comment by Rajitha — August 30, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

  2. Hi Indira and Anjali,
    Very informative post, till now I didn’t know how they make hing. Thanks..
    Rice looks hot-delicious, I have eaten this after giving birth to my daughter for 1 month or so. it very spicy and hot.

    Comment by Madhu — August 30, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

  3. Hi,

    Very informative post …till date I wondered how the resin lump was turned into this manageable product .. Thanks to you now I know .. :-) Thanks !

    Comment by Nupur — August 30, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

  4. When I was a kid, I would tell my mom, “When I have my own kitchen, I’ll never put hing in anything.” And she’d say, “We’ll see about that after you get your own kitchen”. Now I can’t cook without hing!!

    Comment by Raaga — August 30, 2007 @ 8:51 pm

  5. Very informative post! Kudos to you both. I am curious to learn about the foods that contain astringent quality. Looking forward to learn more about our ancient herbs and how they are incorporated into our cooking! Will wait to learn more n more n more!
    My sincere wishes to you both. Regards/Nina

    Comment by Nina — August 30, 2007 @ 9:13 pm

  6. Very informative post and so many medicinal uses of Hing.Hingashtak with buttermilk is my Mom’s mantra to keep away any digestive problems.

    Comment by Madhuli — August 30, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

  7. Great Job !!!
    So informative and well presented. Never knew so much of details. Anjali …I truly appreciate your time and efforts to get the information across to us.
    Thanks Indira for getting Anjali onboard and Anjali Thanks for sharing the valuable information. Looking forward to learn more from you.

    Comment by Shobha — August 30, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

  8. Very informative. Are there different grades of hing (wrt the purity)?

    Comment by Anita — August 30, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

  9. Thanks for the great and informative article. I use asofetedia daily just because my mother used it…after reading the article really understood the significance of using it.

    Comment by Sirisha — August 30, 2007 @ 10:17 pm

  10. Thank you, Anjali–this was a wonderful post.

    I use hing in all of my dal dishes–they don’t taste right without it. And I do believe that it helps digestion of all legumes, in addition to tasting wonderful. I love the smell of it cooking, but what is odd, is that several of my cats really like the smell of it, too. They come running when the steam rises from the dal pot after the hing has been added, their tails up and their noses twitching. If I put a pinch of it on my hands, and let them sniff it, they rub on my fingers and roll around like it was catnip.

    But only two of my cats do it. The others ignore it.

    Comment by Barbara — August 30, 2007 @ 10:33 pm

  11. This was such an informative post, thanx a lot, Indira and Anjali. I didnt know that asa reliefs tootchache and also, that it is included in Worchestershire sauce. Wow… I am much starter now thanx to you.

    I heard chewing on cloves also help in curing toothche. Maybe a spoonful of that into your asa-lime mixture could help as well :)

    Comment by Zlamushka — August 31, 2007 @ 12:55 am

  12. A sincere thank you to Indira and Anjali for this very informative post. Look forward to more articles like this.

    Comment by Soumya — August 31, 2007 @ 3:30 am

  13. Also, read in the Indian Express about the JFI. Nice to see our events right there in the papers. I was so excited and was sharing this with my mother.

    Comment by Raaga — August 31, 2007 @ 4:56 am

  14. Perhaps you should update the Wikipedia info on this spice? It is not half as complete!

    Thanks for the info.

    Comment by cindy — August 31, 2007 @ 6:23 am

  15. Rajitha - In Hingashtak, Hing is #1 but who comes in 2nd, 3rd position depends on individual taste. My father liked more black pepper but my mom made with more ginger. If you are a cumin fan then that would be the silver medalist :) . Yes, hingashtak is heating that’s why just 2-3 morsels of that rice is enough.
    The volatile oil in powdered spices evaporates fairly quickly so I would say you could pre-grind the spices to be used within a week or so.

    Comment by Anjali — August 31, 2007 @ 6:34 am

  16. Anita - Hing is normally categorized in 3 forms - tears, block and powder. The “tears” are the purest. The “block” and “powder” forms are more commercial forms. Like you now know that powder hing that we buy in stored has edible starch added to it.

    Comment by Anjali — August 31, 2007 @ 6:44 am

  17. For a recent acquirer of this pungent spice - can you recommend how to store it? It’s so strong that all the cupboards are now smelling like this. :) And how does it treat IBS? Do you dissolve this in liquid?

    Comment by radish — August 31, 2007 @ 6:59 am

  18. Very Informative. Thanks for this.

    Comment by Kanchana — August 31, 2007 @ 7:23 am

  19. I am loving this new series on spice.

    It is amazing that most of the spices in the hingashtak are ones that are used in our day-to-day cooking. Most of the sabzi’s I make has a combination of at least a couple of them in it. It is good to be reminded that they are a part of our daily food not just for the taste but because of the medicinal properties they provide.

    Comment by Vee — August 31, 2007 @ 7:34 am

  20. Thanks so much for this post. I always learn a great deal when I visit your blog. Your photos are lovely. Thanks for your guest poster as well. I appreciate the education.

    Comment by Deb Schiff — August 31, 2007 @ 8:23 am

  21. I always add hing while doing tadka to rasam and sambar. The aroma, after adding hing is so strong, yet very pleasing and soothing.

    I guess it is grown only in few parts of the world.

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

    Comment by Kumudha — August 31, 2007 @ 8:58 am

  22. Wow Anjali/Indira very informative post,hing for tooth relief now thats new. Thanks for bringing this series.

    Comment by Sreelu — August 31, 2007 @ 10:45 am

  23. I heard Hing was introduced to india by mughal emperor akbar.

    also came across this
    http://www.menumagazine.co.uk/book/azasfoetida.htm

    Comment by loki — August 31, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  24. Thanks for an informative post, Indira & Anjali.
    I had no idea that the powder we use has only 30-40 % of the real thing.

    Comment by TBC — August 31, 2007 @ 12:12 pm

  25. […] Anjali shares the uses and benefits of hing (asafoetida). When it comes to cooking, asafoetida is a must for lentil dishes and curries with green leafy vegetables. Asafoetida is also used a lot for flavoring pickles like tomato, mango etc, and in sauces and is one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce. Adding asafoetida to popu/tadka results in a wonderfully complementary flavor. […]

    Pingback by DesiPundit » Archives » Hing — August 31, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

  26. I love and hate asafoetida! I hate when its raw but love when its cooked. My mom adds this to any podi we make at home. Most informative post! Thanks a lot Indira! And today I made the kobbari kaaram! It was simply superb and I added about 4 pinches of asafotida to it which enhanced its taste. Thanks a lot for your fool proof recipes!

    Comment by Nirmala — September 1, 2007 @ 2:36 am

  27. Lovely pictures and very informative post Indira! We usually use asafoetida in most of our cooking. I love the pungent smell it gives. Thanks to Anjali and u for the wonderful post!

    Comment by Latha — September 1, 2007 @ 6:12 am

  28. Great site and wow, this article is great. I put ing in buttermilk on occassion for the same reasons you mentioned. Others did not seem to know why I did that, but me. They found it odd. I was happy to know that I am not the only one doing that! Re: Hingashtak, I know this is a question for any ayurvedic doctor, but if you’re pitta already (like me), would Hingashtak still be helpful or would it increase body heat too much? Thanks.

    Comment by Jayanthi — September 1, 2007 @ 6:45 pm

  29. Jayanthi - good question. I would recommend that you ask a ayurvedic practitioner first. I will try and see if I can find a good answer for your question.
    Radish - Abt storing asafoetida - You could create a double barrier by keeping asafoetida in a container and then keeping this in another container or a ziploc bag.

    Thank you all for your very encouraging comments and questions.

    Comment by Anjali — September 2, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  30. very informative article. thanks!

    i was wondering where i can get long pepper in the states? the only place i could find it in india was at the ayurvedic shops…but that was once a year just before making diwali lekiyam. oddly, i heard about it again in france where they slip long pepper into the cavity of a chicken before roasting it whole! since then, i have wondered if long pepper has any other indian culinary application(other than in diwali lekiyam, of course)but never managed to find any in the states to try. ideas?

    Comment by faustianbargain — September 2, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  31. I have not seen long pepper in Indian stores here in US. Many here don’t know abt it or have never heard of it. But Long pepper is also used in some Moroccan spice mixtures. Try some Moroccan or African stores. Hopefully you might find it there.

    Comment by Anjali — September 2, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  32. Hi Faustianbargain:

    Looks like pipli is available online. Here are the links I found on Google search:

    Bali Long Peppers
    at Amazon.com, by a third party seller

    I am curious to know about Diwali lekiyam with long pepper. How do you prepare it?
    Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Indira — September 2, 2007 @ 11:25 am

  33. Radish: I keep my hing in a glass jar with a lid (like an old relish jar), and only take it out when needed! That contains the smell really well. I love it in food, but not so wild about the smell in my pantry. The block kind I just leave out and about in my spice box, as it is not nearly so volatile.

    I once met an African-American gentleman who had grown up in New Orleans bayou area in the 1940’s and he said his mom always made him wear asafoetida hund around the neck when he was sick (and maybe eat it too? can’t recall…)- it was some kind of old folk remedy in his community. I thought that was fascinating, as this spice is typically not known at all in the US.

    Comment by Diane — September 2, 2007 @ 3:43 pm

  34. thank you, indira.

    re diwali marundu, we call it kandathipili in tamil(poivre long in the roast chicken recipe..so i am guessing thats long pepper in french)

    diwali lekiyam recipes vary from family to family. the secret to a good lekiyam is grinding it in stone mortar! not the tiny ones..i mean the real deal!

    black pepper: cumin, coriander:omam >
    1.5: 2.5 :1
    kandathippili(about a handful if the above comes up to about 1/2 cup by volume), chukku(dried ginger root about the size of your pinkie finger…lol)

    cardamom.optional

    grind dry spices. soak in water about 30mts.grind to a paste like consistency. dont discard the water you soaked the dry ground spice if there is any remaining.

    reduce over heat after adding more water. the idea is to dilute it and then thicken it over heat. add equal amounts of powdered jaggery by volume to the wet ground spice paste. add ghee.(1/4 cup, probably)

    this is obviously a spicy version. i am talking grandmother recipe language. adjust according to taste..:)

    I really wish for kandathippili now.:)
    Thanks for this lovely recipe FB.
    - Indira

    Comment by faustianbargain — September 2, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  35. oh..do you know what they call airisithipili(arisi like…tamil for ‘rice’)in telugu/english?

    i have a recipe for thipili rasam in my older journals..from meenakshi ammal’s books:

    for four cups of rasam,

    black pepper 1/2 tsp
    red chillies 4
    coriander seeds 2 tsp
    bengal dhal gram 1 tsp
    5-6 kandathippili
    5-6 arisithippilli

    cumin seeds 3/4 tsp
    curry leaves -few

    a lime sized ball of tamarind

    a few pinched curry leaves+1 1/2 tsp salt

    1 tsp ghee
    1tsp black mustard
    2red chillies

    I don’t remember seeing this spice at our homes back at Nandyala, Andhra. No idea what they are called in Telugu. Sorry.
    But I do remember reading a recipe with kandathippili at Hema’s Veg Concoctions.
    - Indira

    Comment by faustianbargain — September 2, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  36. I am so glad you posted on this. I have been trying for months to find some hing that doesn’t have wheat in it. All the brands in my two stores do and I cannot eat wheat. I am happy to hear there are varieties cut with rice flour. Can you recommend any brands? Or a place on the internet to buy some? Thanks!

    Comment by Ginger — September 3, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

  37. Hello Ginger,
    I will let you know if I find a brand that uses rice flour instead of wheat.
    BTW, Supreme Spice Asafoetida extract is 100% Gluten free and much more purer :)

    Comment by Anjali — September 3, 2007 @ 6:46 pm

  38. hi anjali,
    your article is so informative, actually i didn’t know that what we are using is iimpure. where can we get pure one.
    thanks
    raji

    Comment by raji — September 7, 2007 @ 2:03 am

  39. All this time I thought hing and asafoetida were the same thing. Thanks for the info!

    Comment by Monica — October 5, 2007 @ 6:08 am

  40. Kia Ora! I live in NZ and am studying Ayurvedic medicine. I recently bought some pure hing but now I dont know what to do with it! Can you help me? It is very strong and I’m not sure how to use it or how long to soak it in water for. Thank you!

    Comment by Grace Syme — October 6, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

  41. Thanks for the great artcle. can you please tell me how much hing to put in one cup of lentils?

    Comment by shazia — March 4, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  42. I am currently using asofoetida in a tea, the reason why is that I was hurt in a supernatural way inside of my stomach and the question that I have is the asofoeitida good for chasing out worms or reptiles that someone put inside of your stomach as a jinx or hex spell.

    Please reply asap to let me know if this will work to help me with my problem.

    Someone very close to me hurt me in my food in the year of 2006 and I am still suffering with this stomach condition, I have been to the doctors and they said that I am very healthy and some how this mysterious illness just appeared out of the blue in my belly.

    My name is Jennifer.

    Comment by jennifer daley — June 23, 2008 @ 7:59 am

  43. Asafetida powder contains Asafetida and wheat flour or rice flouer. As I have celiac disease, I cannot take wheat flour and, where I live I cannot find Asafetida with rice flour, could someone tell me how I can make the powder from pure Asafetida. Do I need to roast or fry Asafetida or just powder it? If it is to be fried, what oil should I use? Should rice powder be roasted? What should be the ratio of Asafetida and rice powder? Thanks.

    Comment by prashant jain — October 13, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  44. I also have gluten intolerance and cannot take wheat. I recently found out that Hing has wheat starch in it. If you do find an answer for this, please let me know. Thanks!

    Comment by Puja — November 23, 2009 @ 10:53 am

  45. Please let me know the effect of excessive consumption of Asafoetida ( a small ump of it ) by accident and the treatment for the same.

    Comment by Nalini — September 24, 2010 @ 9:49 am

  46. Hi,
    my name is Pritam Ramteke I live in Mumbai,India . I have a 10 year old son who has been diagnosed as having celiac disease ,he is allergic to gluten and has severe symptoms when he ingests gluten which sometimes needs hospitalization
    please let me know which of your asafoetida is gluten free
    regards,
    pritam

    Comment by pritam ramteke — December 13, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

  47. Very informative,Thanks for the info.A quick question, should all spices be in equal qty (i am assuming hing will get to be too stong).also, can we pre-grind this and keep it in a bottle….thanks in advance

    Comment by bindu — December 24, 2010 @ 6:46 am

  48. Hi Anjili,

    Please suggest how to take(eat) hing for intestinal gas( if u think it helps specially for eating Cauliflower sabji etc,) meaning should i take alone or mixed with something.
    All i have is the powder ix fro the indian store. Is that ok?

    Also in Hingwataska , rice should be cooked or uncooked.

    I a in Canada, Toronto, need ur help,please.

    Comment by Kiran — February 21, 2011 @ 7:02 pm

  49. I have had chronic nasal polyps for 15 years.
    And 3 surgeries alraedy. I know I am allergic to wheat, even basmati rice is not helpful now.

    What do you suggest??? can I find Hing pure or with out wheat or rice?? I am alcohol free sugar free and only organic whole milk yogurt.

    Namaste,

    Atmanananda

    Comment by Atmanananda — April 17, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

  50. Dear Indira garu,
    How to use inguva in daily recipes,does it help to cure constipation, what are the other benefits and harmful effects of using Inguva /Hing /Asafoetida. can we use it directly(as it is)what should be the quantity? my Mother tongue is Telugu

    Comment by Mrs Arya prem — June 19, 2011 @ 10:08 am

  51. After reading through earlier posts I am wondering if anyone has found gluten free asafoetida powder in USA or Australia. Frontier brand (USA) does not seem to be available any more.
    Valda

    Comment by Valda Davis — January 14, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

  52. very informative and useful.but please tell me that from where we can get pure asafoetida(hing).

    Comment by vishnu priya — March 6, 2012 @ 8:24 am

  53. Hi Anjali, thank you for this wonderful article. Like some have commented above, I would also like to know if it’s possible to find Hing without the additives. I have Celiac disease and am on a grain-free diet. Hope to hear from you.

    Comment by Vibha — June 11, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  54. Is asafoetida in rock form gluten free?

    Comment by Gita — June 29, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

  55. Hi Anjali,
    Thankyou for your wonderful article.As it is my favourite spice I put in all the dishes.I would like to know whether there is any ill effect of this spice if we use it in all the dishes?

    Comment by Raji — September 20, 2012 @ 3:45 am

  56. what can i do, if Hing becomes excess in a dish/curry

    Comment by pran — December 19, 2015 @ 2:18 am

  57. Best information..its very useful..

    Comment by website development — March 9, 2018 @ 3:16 pm

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