A Middle Eastern seasoning that is made from the gummy sap released from the stalks of the giant fennel plant. Typically grown in the countries of Afghanistan, Iran and India, the sap is cooked into a resin and processed into a powder or a granular form to be sold as a seasoning. The powder is mixed in with foods while the granular form is often used to rub cooking grills or meats before cooking. Although it has a very pungent aroma that is similar to rotting onions or garlic, asafoetida loses it odor when cooked and provides a distinctive flavor similar to onions when added to food dishes. Popular in Asian foods, asafoetida can be used to flavor food dishes such as meats, fish, lentils, soups, stews, and vegetables, or as a means to reduce flatulence when preparing legumes and lentils. In very small quantities, it can be used to flavor chutneys, sauces, and pickles.
Due to the strong flavor of this spice, use small quantities when seasoning foods. To keep the aroma from spreading to other foods, store asafoetida in an airtight container in a cool dark area. The spice is also referred to as asafetida, assafetida, assafoetida, assa foetida, asafotida, devil's dung, devil's dirt, food of the gods, hing, hingu, heeng, and stinking gum.