Cooking with Devil’s Dung or the pleasures of Asafoetida
Asafoetida is a powdered resin gum made popular in Roman times. Although not native to India, it is widely used there, and often by those who, for whatever reason, choose not to use onion or garlic in their cooking. It is also popular in vegetarian cooking as it brings out the flavour and meatiness in mushrooms. In the Moghul Empire c. 1500s the singers of Agra and Delhi believed it enhanced their voices and would eat a spoonful mixed with butter before practicing on the banks of the river Yamuna!
In my experience asafoetida enhances the flavour of onion and garlic when frying as a basis for many dishes, bringing out its ‘savouriness’; but one thing is key – no more than a quarter of a teaspoon should be used. You will immediately notice a citrusy aroma when you add it, which is a very pleasant experience as it gets the salivary juices going in anticipation.
And yes, asafoetida can be a pungent, savoury spice on the nose, hence the name Devil’s Dung, but please, don’t let that put you off – It will bring a whole, new and delightful dimension to your cooking experience.
Useless info: Believed to be useful as an anitflatulent – I cannot corroborate this 🙂