Friday, October 3, 2014

Cooking with Asafoetida

If you’re new to Indian cooking, chances are you have yet to use asafoetida – an ingredient integral in the South. Brace yourself as your initial encounter will be jarring. Remember the dust cloud that encircled Charlie Brown’s friend Pig Pen? Well, times that by two and it will seem like a bouquet of roses next to this oh-so-stinky spice. Not convinced? Asafoetida’s sulfuric stench is so strong that it’s also called devil’s dung. Really, it’s that stinky!

Bottles of asafoetida

So, why, you may ask would anyone consume such an off-putting ingredient? For several surprisingly sensible reasons! First, asafoetida goes from acrid to full-flavored when cooked, and takes on the unique flavor of onions, garlic, and perfectly popped popcorn. Some even pick up the notes of truffles. It also blends well with other spices, magically rounding them out. Sambar (vegetable stew), for example, wouldn’t be sambar without the unifying spice.

Asafoetida is also used to prevent gassiness caused by eating cooked beans, peas, and lentils. Take a close look at the ingredients in urad dhal pappadam (lentil wafers) and you’ll find it listed there. It’s also a key ingredient in many pickles and chutneys. 

Urad dhal pappadam with asafoetida

Purchasing Asafoetida

Asafoetida is stocked in the spice section of most Indian grocery stores. It is sold powdered, in crystal-like chunks and as a paste. I opt for the powder, which is easiest to find and simple to use. 

Asafoetida crystals and powder

Cooking with Asafoetida

Asafoetida is typically sauteed in a fat, such as coconut oil, to round out and mellow its flavor. It pairs well with brown mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried chilies.  

Cooking asafotedia with other spices
Advance purchase required!
Book your Chicago Food Tour today!
buy tickets at zerve
or call Zerve at (800) 979-3370

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts!