What is Hing (Asafoetida)

Origin:  Centuries before, heeng (asafoetida) was thought to be one of the mysterious spices.  Hing (asafoetida) is a dried latex resin and its usage is wide all over the world and it has varied usage since ancient times.  The name asafoetida is divided into “asa” and “foetida.”   “Asa” the word comes from Persia, it means resin and “foetida” comes from Latin which means smelling or stinking.  Perungayam or asafoetida has several medicinal uses which dates back to 700 BC, and asafoetida is not native to India, but it was used liberally during Roman Empire, because it is used as a spice for meat.  Asafoetida is the only spice that can be used generously on vegetables as well as on meat.  Also it is the only spice which could be used by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.  Traditionally, asafoetida is employed mostly for treatment of various diseases.  

Source:  Where does asafoetida comes from?  It is originally from the plant source.  The plant name is Ferula asafoetida, which is a herbaceous plant and it belongs to the Umbelliferae family.  Resin is collected from the rhizome which is the root of the plant.  When we cut the rhizome, a milky liquid comes out from the root is called as latex.  The latex liquid is kept to dry for a period of time to form a resin and this resin can be used as asafoetida.

Flavour:  Asafoetida has a very sharp flavour and aroma, sometimes the flavour is unpleasant and that is the reason it is called as Devil’s Dung.  This uncooked spice has a stinking smell of foul garlic or it smells as a compound smell of both cooked cauliflower and manure because of the presence of sulphur compounds in asafoetida.     

Composition:  In general, asafoetida composed of 68% carbohydrates, 7% minerals, 16% moisture, 4% fibre, 4% protein, and 1% fat, but when we get into detail, the composition of asafoetida is classified into resin, gum and essential oils.  The resin contains one of the most important chemicals called coumarins and ferulic acid.   The gum contains various types of sugars and proteins and the essential acids includes sulphur containing compounds.   

Taste and odour:  Asafoetida has bitter taste and possess characteristic sulphurous odour.

Medicinal uses:  Asafoetida have various medicinal uses.  It is best for diabetes, ulcer, spasm, fertility, cancer, high blood pressure and also best for worms, virus and fungal infections.   Also it is beneficial in treating hysteria and menstruation problems in women.

Special properties:  Recently a bioactive compound called as sesquiterpene coumarin is identified, which is useful in treating Influenza A or swine influenza infection.

Usage:  From the ancient time, asafoetida has been used in several ways such as a flavouring agent in food and also traditionally used for hair and skin-related problems.  In addition to that, it has numerous health benefits too.  The daily recommended amount of asafoetida depends on the context of the usage, so it varies from person to person.  On average 1 ml to 3 ml of asafoetida has to be used.

Tatva Health and Wellness has eased the difficulty of using asafoetida by bringing a product called Spice Liquid Hing drop for the consumers.  The Spice Liquid Hing drop is a breakthrough product for this generation, because it is a concentrate and can be used directly and readily over the dishes and the Spice Liquid Hing is handy and it has greater advantage than the powder or solid asafoetida.

Leave a Reply