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All About Asafoetida or Heeng | Know Your Fine Spice Hing (Ferula asafoetida)

All About Asafoetida (हींग) | Know Your Fine Spice Heeng (Ferula asafoetida)

Know more about Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida). It's also known as devil's dung.

Health benefits of hing, health benefits of asafoetida

Asafoetida or Hing is mentioned as far back as in the Bhagvat Puran (7:5:23-24) written over 4000 years ago by Veda Vyas.

The delicious aromas coming out of the kitchen usually come from a beautiful mix of ghee, jeera, frying onions and heeng for a tadka or tempering.

Asafoetida is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula (three of which grow in India), which is a perennial herb.

While it’s native to Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq, asafoetida is commonly used in Indian cuisine where it’s dried, ground into a spice, and referred to as hing

In Central Asia and India, asafetida has remained not only an important culinary spice and but also a herbal medicine to this day. It is some­times used in Persian and Afghani cooking.

This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickling. It plays a critical flavoring role in Indian vegetarian cuisine by acting as a savory enhancer.

What are the vernacular names for Asafoetida?

The names of Asafoetida or Hing in international languages are given below.

Indian Languages International Languages
Hindi: Hing (हींग)
Assamese: Hing (হিং)
Bengali:
Hing (হিং)
Gujarati: Hing (હિંગ)
Kannada: Ingu (ಇಂಗು)
Kashmiri:
Yang (ؠانگ), Yangu (ؠَنگُ), Sap (صَپ)
Malayalam
: Kayam (കായം), Perungayam (പെരുങ്കായം)
Manipuri: Hing (ꯍꯤꯡ)
Marathi: Hing (हिंग)
Mizo: –
Oriya: Hengu (ହେଙ୍ଗୁ)
Punjabi:
Hingra (ਹਿੰਰਾ), Hing (ਹਿੰਗ)
Sanskrit:
Hingu (हिङ्गु), Raamathan
Tamil:
Perungayam (பெருங்காயம்)
Telugu:
Inguva (ఇంగువ), Hing (హింగ్)
Urdu: Hing (ہینگ), Anjadana (انجدانہ)
Latin (Botanical): Ferula asafoetida
Arabic: Haltit (حِلْتِيت), Hiltit (حَلْتِيت)
Bulgarian: Asafetida (Асафетида)
Chinese:
A ngaih (阿魏)
Dutch:
Duivelsdrek, Godenvoedsel
Farsi: Angujeh (انگوژه), Angozad (انگژد, )
French:
Férule persique, Merde du diable, Ase fètide
German: Asant, Stinkasant, Teufelsdreck
Greek: Aza (Αζα)
Italian: Assafétida
Japanese: Agi (あぎ), Hin (ヒン)
Portuguese: Esterco-do-diabo
Spanish:
Asafétida
Swedish
: Dyvelsträck
Turkish: Şeytantersi, Şeytan boku
Vietnamese: A nguỳ

What exactly is Asafoetida?

Get to know more about Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida)

Asafoetida is essentially a dried latex ((gum oleoresin) extracted from Ferula asafoetida, an plant in the Umbelliferae (Celery family). The resin exudes from the Ferula plants that grow wild in Afghanistan and Iran.

Asafoetida is extracted from the Ferula plants which have massive taproots or carrot-shaped roots, 12.5-15 cm in diameter at the crown when they are 4-5 years old.

Just before the plants flower, in March-April, the upper part of the living rhizome root is laid bare and the stem cut off close to the crown. A dome-shaped structure made of twigs & earth covers the exposed surface.

The milky latex exudes from the cut surface. After some days, the exudates are scraped off and a fresh slice of the root cut when more latex exudes.

Asafoetida, a smelly, acrid spice is loved by Indians. It has been used to lace their food for centuries. But it was never cultivated in India – until 2020.

In October, 2020 scientists planted about 800 saplings of the plant in Lahaul and Spiti, a cold desert nestled in the Himalayan mountains, exactly two years after India’s CSIR imported six varieties of seeds from Iran.

As per the official records, this is the First effort in the country in the last 29 years. As of now, Indians rely on imports mostly from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Asafoetida, or hing as it’s commonly known in India, is a perennial, flowering plant that largely grows in the wild. It thrives in dry soil in temperatures under 35C.

So India’s tropical plateaus and plains, humid coast and heavy monsoons rule out much of the country for hing farming.

What is the nutritional value of Asafoetida?

Find out about the nutritional value of Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida)

Apart from their bitter taste, Asafoetida is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

An analysis of asafoetida shows it to consist of carbohydrates 67.8% per 100 gms, moisture 16.0%, protein 4.0%, fat 1.1%, minerals 7.0% and fiber 4.1%.

Its mineral and vitamin contents include substantial calcium besides phosphorus, iron, carotene, riboflavin and niacin.

What is the chemical composition of Asafoetida or Heeng?

Know and understand about chemical composition of a Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida)

Dried asafetida consists mostly of a resin (25 to 60% of the total mass, 60% of which are esters of ferula acid) and a complex carbohydrate part (25 to 30%).

The essential oil (10%) contains a wealth of sulfur compounds, mainly (R)-2-butyl-1-propenyl disulphide (50%), 1-(1-methylthiopropyl) 1-propenyl disulphide and 2-butyl-3-methylthioallyl disulphide.

Furthermore, di-2-butyl trisulphide, 2-butyl methyl trisulphide, di-2-butyl disulphide and even di-2-butyl tetrasulphide have been found.

The essential oil contains also some terpenes (α-pinene, phell­andrenes) and hendecyl­sulphonyl acetic acid. Ethers of sesqui­terpenes with coumarines have also been identified (farnesi­feroles).

What is the history of Asafoetida or Heeng?

Know more about the origins & the story behind Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida)

Hing derives its name from its very potent scent – asafoetida in Latin means “fetid gum”. Persians once called it “the food of the gods”.

The earliest mention of asafoetida in the historical record dates from the eighth century BC, when the plant was listed in an inventory of the gardens of Babylonian King Marduk-apla-iddina II.

Not long after that, in Nineveh (near modern Mosul, Iraq), asafoetida was included in a catalogue of medicinal plants in the library of King Ashurbanipal.

Hing came to India from Afghanistan as early as 600 BC – it’s mentioned in Hindu and Buddhist texts from the time.

It also makes an appearance in the grand Hindu epic, Mahabharata, whose composition historians believe began around 300 BC.

Ancient Romans and Greeks cooked with it. Some food historians believe it was widely used alongside silphion, a cousin that has now become extinct, leading asafoetida to lose its charm as well.

It is believed that it went into Europe from a dominant expedition of Alexander The Great.

After recurring from a journey to northeastern Persia, they thought they had found a plant approximately the same to the famed Silphium of Cyrene in North Africa, though less flavorsome.

Dioscorides, in the early century, wrote, “the Cyrenaica kind, even if one just tastes it, at once arouses a funniness all through the body and has a very strong healthy fragrance, so that it is not noticed on the inhalation, or only a little; but the Iranian is weaker in clout and has a foul aroma”.

Nevertheless, it could be used as a substitute for Silphium in cooking, which was lucky, because a few decades subsequent to Dioscorides’ time, the true Silphium of Cyrene vanished.

Because of this asafoetida became more accepted in the midst of physicians, as well as Cooks.

After the fall of the Roman empire in the 16th century, asafoetida became rare in Europe and if ever encountered, it was seen and used as a medicine. But in India it still widely used in both the fields of cooking and medicine.

How are red and white asafoetida?

What is the difference between red and white hing?

Red Asafoetida (Hing Lal) White Asafoetida (Hing Kabuli Sufaid)
Scientific Name Ferula asafoetida Ferula foetida or others
Spice Origin Afghanistan Iran, Tajikistan
Flavour Strong pungent flavour Milder flavour
Solubility Oil soluble Water soluble

Asafoetida is commonly found in three forms, such as `tears`, `mass` and `paste`.

The first being the tears which constitute the purest form of the resin and are rounded or flattened in shape, 5 to 30 mm in diameter and dull yellow or grayish in color.

The two types are distinguished by their colour, wherein it is seen whether the tears retain the original pale color for years or gradually become dark or reddish brown.

The common commercial form is mass asafoetida. It consists of tears converted into a more or less uniform mass usually mixed with fragments of root, earth etc.

The paste form contains extraneous matter like root fragments, soils, sand, clay and other residue matter. Other adulterants include- gum arabic, cheaper kinds of gum resin from other species or different species.

What are the uses of Asafoetida or Heeng?

How is Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida) used?

  • Hot water extract of the dried gum is taken orally for hysteria and whooping cough and to treat ulcers.
  • Hot water extract of the dried leaf and stem is taken orally by males as an aphrodisiac.
  • Extract is taken orally as nerve and general tonics.
  • Oleoresin powder, crushed with the fingertips, is used as a condiment.
  • Decoction of the plant is taken orally as a vermifuge.
  • Dried gum is used vaginally as a contraceptive before or after coitus.
  • Hot water extract of the dried root is taken orally as an antispasmodic, a diuretic, a vermifuge, and an analgesic.
  • Paste made from the dried resin is applied to the chest for whooping cough.
  • Fried Ferula is taken with Allium sativum and sugar to cleanse the new mother.
  • Fried Ferula, Piper nigrum, and Cinnamonum camphora is taken orally for headache and toothache.
  • Hot water extract of the dried resin is taken orally for upset stomach.
  • Extract of dried Ferula asafoetida with Brassica Alba and rock salt is diluted with vinegar and taken orally as an abortifacient.
  • Hot water extract of the dried gum is taken orally as a carminative, an antispasmodic, and an expectorant in chronic bronchitis.
  • Mixed with cayenne pepper and sweet flag, it is used as a remedy for cholera.
  • Exudate of the dried gum resin is eaten to prevent guinea worm disease.
  • Gum resin with salt and the bark juice of Moringa pterygosperma is used externally for stomach aches.
  • Dry Lampyris noctiluca without head is mixed with 200– 300 mg of Ferula and taken mornings and evenings for gallstones and kidney stones.
  • Hot water extract of the dried resin is taken orally as an emmenagogue.
  • Gum is chewed by females for amenorrhea.
  • Gum is chewed as an anti-epileptic.
  • Water extract of the resin is taken orally as an anthelmintic.
  • Dried gum is used medicinally for whooping cough, asthma, and bronchitis.
  • Fluid extract of the resin is taken orally as an emmenagogue, a stimulating expectorant, an anthelmintic, an aphrodisiac, and a stimulant to the brain and nerves.
  • It is claimed to be a powerful antispasmodic.

What does Asafoetida taste like?

What is the taste of Asafoetida or Heeng?

Asafoetida gives a pungent but comforting onion-garlic flavour, which is especially good in vegetarian dishes, curries and stews. When uncooked or in its raw form it smells like sulfur and tastes bitter.

Hing has a rather piercing aroma that becomes intoxicating while preparing a meal with it. Once cooked, hing takes on a pleasant onion-like scent and mellow flavour that contributes a lovely aroma, to the finished dish.

How much Asafoetida or Heeng should I use?

What is the recommended quantity of Asafoetida or Heeng for a day?

Very little asafoetida is actually used for cooking a dish, with most recipes literally calling for “a pinch,” but you can measure out anywhere between 1/16th to 1/8th teaspoon if you’re a stickler for measuring.

What are the ayurvedic properties of asafoetida or heeng?

Information about ayurvedic details of asafoetida or hing (Ferula asafoetida).

Hingu or hing is used to pacify vata and kapha dosha. It increases the pitta dosha and is used to relieve abdominal pain. Asafoetida is light to digest, stimulates digestive fire and is used as an appetizer.

Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (lightness), Snigdha (oily, unctuousness), Teekshana (piercing)
Rasa (Taste) – Katu (pungent)
Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion) – Katu (Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion)
Veerya (Potency) – Ushna (Hot)
Effects on Tridosha – Balances Kapha and Vata Dosha. Increases Pitta Dosha.

What can I use Asafoetida for?

Learn how to use Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida) in your food & beverages.

Asafoetida is a pungent spice known for its use in Indian cuisine. Hing is known for its funky, umami-packed flavours and strong aroma.

  • You can use it anywhere to avoid the use of onions and garlic.
  • It is convenient in places where adding chopped onions would ruin the texture, like smooth and creamy cheese or egg dishes.
  • It can also elevate fish if used very sparingly.
  • You can use asafoetida in bean or lentil dishes because it’s known for its propensity to eliminate gas.
  • Add 1/4 tsp of asafoetida powder directly in hot oil, along with other whole spices and continue to cook as per the recipe.
  • Add it to lentils, legumes or vegetable soups, stews and casseroles.
  • Use asafoetida as a pickling spice along with mustard seeds.
  • Iranians use it to flavour meatballs; Afghan cooks use it to prepare dried meat.

A Few Recipes that Use Asafoetida or Heeng

How do I use asafoetida in my dish?

Learn how to use asafoetida or heeng (Ferula asafoetida) in your food & beverages.

  • You can crush a small piece of hing and blend it into a smooth paste with hot water before adding it to the dish. Like this it easily mixes with the dish and it also helps in bringing out the real flavours.
  • Roast a bit of heeng in hot oil for 5 -10 seconds and then add the other ingredients. Make sure to not roast it on high flame or roast it too much.
  • It can also be steeped in hot water and use the water to make the base of sambar or even a soup or cook your leafy greens in it.
  • You can use powdered heeng along with yogurt to marinate your meat.

Can I use all parts of asafoetida?

What parts of Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida) plant are used for food & beverages.

Asafoetida is obtained chiefly from the plant Ferula assa-foetida. The whole plant is used as a fresh vegetable, the inner portion of the full-grown stem being regarded as a delicacy.

However, what we use for our cooking is the oleo gum resin obtained from the rhizome and root of the plant.

How long does asafoetida last?

Learn about how long does heeng or hing (Ferula asafoetida) last in storage.

Asafoetida chunks have quite a long shelf life. However, the powdered version will last a maximum of a year.

How do I store asafoetida?

Learn about how to store hing or heeng (Ferula asafoetida).

Asafoetida for safe storage, should be kept as cool as possible, perhaps in a refrigerator. Heat and moisture will lead to its deterioration, so store your hing in a cool and dry place in airtight containers.

You can also store your asafoetida in the freezer. In such a case it will last for almost 2 years.

Ferula asafoetida also known as asafoetida, heeng or hing

Is there a substitute for asafoetida or heeng?

Learn how to use a substitute for hing or heeng (Ferula asafoetida), if unavailable

If the recipe you want to make calls for asafoetida but you don’t have any, don’t worry. Here are some best substitutes for asafoetida or heeng per 1/2 tsp asafetida.

  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder plus 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. This will be less strong than asafoetida.
  • Substitute 1/2 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
  • 2 minced garlic cloves sauteed in oil or ghee

Where do I buy Asafoetida or Heeng from?

Where to Locate Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida) in a Grocery Store?

You can find asafoetida or hing in the spices section of most grocery stores. If you are outside India, you will find them at an Indian specialty store in your city.

Buy asafoetida or heeng based products on Amazon: India | USA

What are the health benefits of Asafoetida ?

Learn more about health benefits of Asafoetida or Heeng (Ferula asafoetida)

There are significant health benefits of hing. An ancient Indian culinary ingredient with immense health benefits of asafoetida are known and used. Its powder with buttermilk is a very famous home remedy for bloating.

  1. Health benefits of asafoetida for mental health – Heeng or asafoetida can help to stabilise your mental health. It’s been used for centuries to help calm the nerves and reduce anxiety.
  2. Health benefits of heeng in battling cholesterol – If you’re battling high cholesterol, asafoetida can help to reduce your cholesterol levels to a healthy number.
  3. Health benefits of asafoetida with digestive problems – Asafoetida can also help to relieve problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. It does this by helping to reduce the gas in your digestive system. When gas is absorbed and reduced, you don’t have so many problems with painful intestinal cramping and discomfort.
  4. Health benefits of hing in intestinal problems – It’s also a reliable method for killing off intestinal parasites such as worms. It’s a natural way to relieve the body of parasites without painful side effects.
  5. Health benefits of asafoetida as a repellent – Topically, asafoetida can be used to treat insect bites. It can also be used to repel the insects that are doing the biting. You’ll just need to use an ointment or cream that contains asafoetida to treat your skin.
  6. Health benefits of heeng in breathing problems – Asafoetida can be a helpful remedy for serious coughing problems such as bronchitis or whooping cough. It helps to relieve the spasms in the airways that are causing the coughing in the first place.
  7. Health benefits of hing in contact dermatitis – Ferula galbaniflua as well as Ferula rubricaulis are two other types of asafoetida that have a gum which is rubefacient and it has irritant qualities. Individuals responsive to these species develop contact dermatitis as a side effect.
  8. Health benefits of asafoetida as an analgesic – Asafoetida has been recommended as a safe analgesic for a wide range of pain levels and symptoms, from chronic pain from injuries or surgeries to the colic pain of children.
  9. Health benefits of heeng for reproductive health – Progesterone is one of the most important elements for female reproductive health, and asafoetida encourages the production of this important hormone.
  10. Health benefits of hing as a fertility booster – One of the ancient uses of asafoetida is as a sexual stimulant, and it is well-known to remove symptoms of impotence or infertility in men and women. By encouraging hormonal activity and boosting energy and blood flow, asafoetida is mostly an aphrodisiac that is easily accessible.
Health Benefits of Hing, Health Benefits of Asafoetida
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Asafoetida Water or Hing Water - Heeng Water or Hing Water for Health

Asafoetida Water or Hing Water - Heeng Water or Hing Water for Health - Drink it on an empty stomach for maximum benefits.
Course Beverage
Cuisine Indian
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword Asafoetida, Asafoetida Water, Heeng, Heeng Paani, Heeng Water, Hing, Hing Paani, Hing Water
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1 people
Calories 1kcal

Ingredients

  • 0.5 Teaspoon Asafoetida Powder Hing Powder
  • 1 Cup Warm Water

Instructions

  • Mix hing into water
  • Drink asafoetida water on empty stomach for maximum benefits.

Notes

Hing powder is usually available. Else, take a asafoetida bricket and smash it into powder and use it as indicated.

Remove pan from the fire and add asafoetida

What are the side effects of Asafoetida or Heeng?

What are the risks associated with Asafoetida or Heeng?

Asafoetida oil may pose a serious risk because it contains high levels of erucic acid which may cause heart issues. It’s because of this culinary use of Asafoetida oil is banned in the USA & Canada.

However, it is still unclear whether it is actually harmful, but high levels of erucic acid could pose risks to certain groups, such as children.

In 2016, the FDA issued a warning that Asafoetida oil is not safe to use in cooking because of its high erucic acid content.

This means that the FDA does not permit its use as a cooking medium in the United States.

FINALLY, TO SUM IT UP

All About Asafoetida or Heeng | Uses & Benefits of Heeng

Health benefits of hing, health benefits of asafoetida

Asafoetida or Hing is mentioned as far back as in the Bhagvat Puran (7:5:23-24) written over 4000 years ago by Veda Vyas.

The delicious aromas coming out of the kitchen usually come from a beautiful mix of ghee, jeera, frying onions and heeng for a tadka or tempering.

Asafoetida is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula (three of which grow in India), which is a perennial herb.

While it’s native to Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq, asafoetida is commonly used in Indian cuisine where it’s dried, ground into a spice, and referred to as hing

In Central Asia and India, asafetida has remained not only an important culinary spice and but also a herbal medicine to this day. It is some­times used in Persian and Afghani cooking.

This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickling. It plays a critical flavoring role in Indian vegetarian cuisine by acting as a savory enhancer.

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