The smell of this pungent spice is rather unpleasant, but is transformed when cooked. Used in combination with other spices, it acts to balance out the flavour of many Indian dishes.

Asafoetida is obtained from the sap of a variety of giant fennel that is native to Iran and although in India it is grown in the north, is especially popular in southern India for adding to dal and vegetable dishes.

A mere pinch is all that is needed and it is important to fry it first in oil to calm and change the acrid raw smell into a far more pleasant garlicy-onion aroma.

Asafoetida is available in small lumps or as a brown or mustard coloured powder and should be kept in a tight fitting tin that will contain its powerful smell.


Asafoetida is known by many other names, including hing and also stinking gum.