Asafetida (Hing) is an essential ingredient in Indian vegetarian cooking. Asafetida is the strong-smelling, even stinking, dried brownish resin extracted from the root of a plant (Ferula assafoetida) that grows wild from the eastern Mediterranean to central Asia. Asafetida gets its name from two languages: assa from the Farsi meaning “resin”, and foetidus, Latin for “stinky” (hence, fetid). Fresh asafetida resin is indeed powerful; it can be unpleasant to the uninitiated but stimulating to its fans.

In central Asia, especially India and Iran, asafetida has remained an important culinary spice and herbal medicine. In India, some people don’t eat onions and garlic for religious reasons, substituting asafetida instead; however, in northern Indian cooking, asafetida is often combined with either garlic or onion. In southern India, asafetida is even more popular and shows up in the Tamil spice mixture sambar podi, which generally seasons vegetables, not meats, because vegetarianism is more prevalent in southern India.

Other Names
Anghuzeh (Farsi); asafétida (Spanish); asafoetida; a-wei (Chinese); aza (Greek); devil’s dung; férule persique or merde du diable (French); haltit or tyib (Arabic); hing (Hindi); mvuje (Swahili); stinkasant or teufelsdreck (German); stinking gum
Purchase and Avoid
For stronger flavour, buy asafetida resin; for a milder spice that’s easier to use, buy powdered asafetida. Yellow asafetida is milder than brown.
Powdered asafetida loses its aroma after about 1 year, but the resin lasts indefinitely.
Culinary Uses
Food Affinities
  • beans

  • chickpeas

  • garlic

  • lamb

  • lentils

  • mushroom

  • onion

  • split peas

  • turmeric

Category: Spices and Herbs

Sub Category: Spice