Asafoetida: Health Benefits And Uses

Health Benefits of Asafoetida

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India is very famous for its cultural diversity, which gave birth to hundreds of art forms and cuisines all around the country. One thing common in all the dishes of any cuisine of India is the spices used. Indians believe that no matter how easy or difficult the recipe of the dish is, the real essence comes from the spices added.

Indian restaurants in Berlin provide the best experience to their customers by presenting authentic dishes with original flavors and spice.  In India tackling all major senses with food is very important. The aroma, the taste, and the texture are of utmost importance to the people of this diversified land.

Not just the traditional, authentic Indian dishes but this touch of spices and aroma is added to the dishes from the other countries as well. Be it Chinese from China or Italian from Italy, for an Indian it will be an edible dish only once the “desi tadka” is added to it. 

There are nearly 40 different kinds of spices that are added to the food in India. These dishes are sometimes used as a standalone but are mostly accompanied by a few more spices to make a combination and each spice has its own taste, health benefit, and flavour.

Combining traditional cooking methods to the flavors of Indian spices is an art and is appreciated that way too. Every household in India has its own flavor of food. The amount of each spice added to their meal is different, in different combinations, thus making each meal unique.

Some of the most commonly used spices are coriander powder, turmeric, cilantro, garam masala, cumin, ginger, garlic, and asafoetida. 

What is Asafoetida

Asafoetida: Health Benefits And Uses
Unprocessed asafoetida in a jar and as a tincture –Wikimedia

Asafoetida is also known as Hing and is one of the most commonly found and used spices in India. It is mostly used in Indian and Persian cuisine. To use asafoetida in your food is equivalent to adding one of the most powerful aromas to your dish.

Asafoetida is the root-derived resin of the ferula foetida or giant fennel and it is used in making the popular Indian pickle. It has has a very peculiar, rather pungent smell and it is mostly used in Punjabi cuisine.

This aroma is the reason why this spice has names like the devil’s dung in the western but is also called the food of the Gods in India. The strong flavor and aroma of asafoetida have made it this famous in the food industry. 

Why would one use Asafoetida? 

The main reason anyone used asafoetida in their foods is to enhance the savoury content of it. The aroma of asafoetida is so strong and intoxicating that people get addicted to its taste and a peculiar smell. Asafoetida tastes similar to onion or leeks.

The aroma, flavor, and taste of asafoetida have made it a must-have spice for all Indian households. To enjoy authentic Indian food, search for Indian restaurants near me and experience the beauty of this spice in person. 

How to use Asafoetida?

Indians commonly use asafoetida in its powder form but it can also be stored in the solidified state. According to history, it was the Mughals from the Middle East who brought asafoetida to India, in the early 16th Century. Some countries keep hing as an optional spice but for those from India, hing is a necessity.

The pungent smell of asafoetida when added to boiling hot butter, ghee or oil, subsides and releases a rather mild onion or leek-like aroma. Asafoetida smoothens the fragrance of the other spices and makes all of them very pleasant to the human senses. According to various studies, some of Asafoetida’s compounds are similar to those found in garlic and onion

The most important thing with hing is using the right quantity. While the excess of anything can be very harmful, this spice particularly is dangerous. Asafoetida needs to be handled with utmost care and should be used very wisely. Excessive amounts of asafoetida can make the food bitter, thus destroying the entire dish.

Hing is usually added to gas including food items because of its digestive properties. People belonging to households that do not believe in the culture of onions and garlic get the heavenly taste of these groceries by replacing them with asafoetida. The digestive supplements in India are made majorly with asafoetida and are quite addictive to anybody with the taste for savory food. 

Asafoetida is also consumed in a watery form that is hing water. Hing water is simply hing dissolved in water. One can drink hing water on an empty stomach to get maximum benefits from it.

Hing water

  • promotes weight loss,
  • improves digestion,
  • bring the stomach’s ph to normal if acidic,
  • flushes out toxins,
  • keeps bad cholesterol of body in control,
  • prevents from catching a cold,
  • reduces headache and stomach ache, 

Asafoetida is used in the first stage of Indian cooking. To elevate the taste and aroma of this spice, it is added directly, in small quantities to a splash of boing oil.

While cooking Indian food asafoetida is added to boiling oil or butter and is allowed to sizzle for a little while after which either the other spices are added or directly onions, garlic, etc are added, entirely depending on the recipe of the dish being prepared.

Hot oil or butter is used to reduce the sulfurous flavor and smell. Asafoetida was earlier stored with pine nuts in jar containers as seasoning. Now asafoetida is used in Indian restaurants and dishes in powder form. For the diet-conscious gentry, asafoetida or hing powder is also available in rice flour, especially for those who follow a gluten-free diet plan. 

Health Benefits of Asafoetida

Apart from its aroma or taste, asafoetida for many years has been used in traditional medicine because of its health benefits.

In Ayurvedic medicine, asafoetida is not only used to enhance digestion and aid gas but also to treat bronchitis and kidney stones.

In the Middle Ages, dried gum of asafoetida was word around the neck to fight any infections or diseases. It is also a good source of antioxidants.

 

Here are a 30+ health benefits of the food of Gods spice, Asafoetida

  • It is a good source of antioxidants (1)
  • Helps develop anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties in the body
  • Helps indigestion, when used as a spice or grounded thus promoting weight loss (2)
  • Increases activity of digestive enzymes 
  • Increases the release of bile from the liver (3)
  • Prevents or reduces gas 
  • Reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome  (4)
  • It acts as a substitute for onion and garlic which contain high amounts of ingestible carbs
  • It has anti-bacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties or effects (5)
  • Asafoetida helps lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels (6)
  • It has the potential to stop the growth and spread of certain cancer cells in the human body (7)
  • Asafoetida protects the brain health (8)
  • Hing has a relaxing effect on the airway smooth muscles (9)
  • Helps ease symptoms of asthma 
  • Helps lower blood sugar levels (10)
  • It is rich in nutrients like carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, and has an abundance of oils that are essential for a healthy skin
  • Asafoetida is loaded with dietary fiber
  • It helps reduce menstrual cramps 
  • Removes chest congestion and phlegm 
  • Helps maintain skin texture, smoothness and adds radiance to the skin
  • Prevents the growth of the H1N1 virus in the human body (11)
  • Since asafoetida is loaded with iron, it helps in the treatment of anemia, increases concentration, and reduces fatigue
  • Improves joint health and cardiovascular health
  • Used in the treatment of female infertility diseases like PCOD (12)
  • Provides relief from headache
  • Used as an ayurvedic mouth rinse
  • Acts as an Anti-aging spice and treating skin blemishes 
  • Used in the treatment of earaches, toothaches, and pimples 
  • Asafoetida in the powder form can be used for hair growth 
  • It is used as an anti-epileptic medicine 

Epilogue

Indians use asafoetida as a regular spice in most of their dishes. It is one of the unique spices that gives a unique taste to the Indian meals. But people all around the world have now started recognising the various benefits and health aids that asafoetida provides and using them accordingly. 

Until 2020, Hing was imported from countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan but is now being planted and developed directly in India.

Traditionally Indians used hing for medicinal purposes only but now it is used and appreciated for its aroma, unique taste, and the flavors it adds to the dish.

With the world moving ahead and gaining new experiences becoming a major part of an average person’s lifestyle, the cuisine sector needs exploration too. Indian cuisine is now adorned by people all around the world thus ensuring that Indian spices are recognized too. 

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