Asafoetida, A flavourful substitute for Garlic and Onion

Asafoetida is also known as ‘Hing,’ and ‘food of the gods’ Asafoetida is made from a variety of giant…

Asafoetida is also known as ‘Hing,’ and ‘food of the gods’

Asafoetida is made from a variety of giant fennel, where the sap is extracted and the root is dried, to create a vibrant yellow coloured resin, which naturally has a pungent smell, not unlike rotting garlic. Once it is cooked it comes ‘alive’ as the aroma changes and creates a beautiful substitute for garlic and onions. The Jain and Brahmin Indians, who do not eat either garlic or onions, consider Asafoetida as the most blessed of flavours, as it adds a similar taste and overtone.

Small amounts of Asafoetida give a comforting onion-garlic flavour, which is especially good in stews, curries and vegetarian dishes. A ½ teaspoon of the powder can be substituted for 2-minced garlic gloves or 2/3 of a cup of minced onion. Tiny amounts give a gentle lift to cheese dishes, egg, salad dressings and fish. It is a great substitute at dinner parties if you aren’t sure about your guests eating garlic or onions as this can be disagreeable to some, and substituting Asafoetida will stop the garlic and onion breath that everyone hates.


People refer to asafetida as “devil’s dung” informally due to its sulphurous smell. This strange spice is uncommon and unfamiliar to western cuisine, but you will find it in most Asian kitchens. Asafoetida originates from Central Asia. It is related to Apiaceae or carrot family. Afghanistan is the world’s largest exporter of asafoetida after Iran and Kashmir.


The resin is crushed to be blended with flour, Arabic gum (acacia gum) and starch to prepare the powder which is sold in the market. This act of mixing together lowers the intensity of raw asafoetida. This also keeps the resin from clumping into its solid form.

Health Benefits:

Hing’ has been used since the days of the Roam Empire as a home remedy for indigestion. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties relieve upset stomachs, intestinal gas, intestinal worms and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, like alternating diarrhea, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain.

The presence of Hing secretes insulin which decreases your blood sugar levels and is packed with coumarins compound (which is a natural compound that has been found to have blood-thinning, and anti-tumour activities.) that aid in improving your blood, thereby preventing blood clots.

For people who don’t want to cook but want all the health benefits that asafoetida powder brings, it’s simple, drink a glass of water with a pinch of asafoetida powder and a hint of ginger powder which will improve the aroma, mix it till they both dissolve.

It’s FODMAP friendly and that easy!

How to Use Asafoetida Powder in Your Everyday Cooking.

Asafoetida powder can be hard to find at the supermarket but can be purchased on our online store asafoetida powder.

Asafoetida is one of the main ingredients in Ayurvedic food, such as kitchari along with lentils, chickpeas, pulses and cauliflower. You will also find it in Ayurvedic and Western herbal medicines in traces.

It is key to keep asafoetida in an airtight container away from light, heat and air which will also keep the strong sulphurous odour locked away. If stored correctly the powder will last over a year.

Don’t let the smell frighten you because it will dissipate with cooking. Asafoetida should be used in minute quantities to add character, flavour and health benefits to your dishes. Any dishes where it would be too bulky or coarse to add garlic and onions, ideally asafoetida powder would be a fantastic alternative for that dish.

If you don’t like the taste of raw onion in your salads, salsa and even salad dressing where raw garlic is used it gives the dish a gentle lift. Many Mediterranean dishes including tagines, stews, pickles and marinades where onions, garlic and leek are used, can be substituted for Asafoetida powder.

By marinating vegetables in Asafoetida powder with salt and other spices, vegetables tend to drain excess natural water after their marinated and are then ready to be roasted or fried for a delicious vegetarian dish. Meat and fish dishes can also be used with this method, it is great with red meats making it easier to digest.

It is extremely common in Indian dishes such as Avani’s lamb curry, Indian dahl, Punjabi paneer curry and naan bread. These are a few of the recipes where asafoetida powder is used or where onion and garlic are present and can be replaced with as an alternative. The dishes listed above can all be found on the Spice People’s website, with easy and free user-friendly recipes readily available. Cooking foods such as beans, cauliflower, peas, corn and potato which can cause flatulence and gastric problems, with the addition of asafoetida, can be a great option to enhance flavour and reduce flatulence often associated with beans and lentils.

Is Asafoetida Safe to Consume?

Asafoetida is considered safe to be consumed like all other spices for most people when used in a minute amount. However, some cases have been reported where it makes conception difficult. In case you are already pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive, avoid using it.
Asafoetida does not contain gluten in its natural state, but some products are mixed with wheat flour. So, people suffering from gluten indigestion (celiac disease) or following a gluten-free diet should avoid it.

How to Remove the Smell of Asafoetida?

The pungent smell of Asafoetida can be intolerable. To get rid of it, add a pinch of resin in hot oil, ghee or butter and sautee it on low flame. Once its dissolves, it could smell the flavour reminiscent of onion and garlic only, and the awful smell will be gone. This infused oil is added to enhance the depth of savoury dishes and stews.

Want to try this amazing spice in your next dish? Click on the link to the spice people’s store where you can purchase asafoetida powder and check out our delicious curry recipes. Remember a little can go a long way, so start with a pinch (1/2 teaspoon) and keep adding gradually for the desired taste!

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