Taste (Rasa): Pungent
Energetics (Virya): Heating
Doshic Effects: Balancing Vata and Kapha
Benefits & Use: This potent-smelling spice is commonly used in Persian and Indian cooking for flavoring, food preservation and fragrance. From a nutritional perspective, asafetida provides calcium, phosphorous, iron, niacin, carotene and riboflavin to our diets. It has antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-flatulent properties that help alleviate problems like indigestion, upset stomach, intestinal gas, intestinal worms, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It also acts as a respiratory stimulant, which is very useful in relieving chest congestion and releasing phlegm (see recipe below). Asafetida boosts progesterone secretion and promotes smooth blood flow, and thus provides relief from irregular menstruation and cramping.
Additional Uses: Antiseptic; relief for toothache and headache; worm repellent; reduces fine lines, wrinkles, age spots
In the Kitchen: Asafoetida is commonly used in Indian savory dishes, often to add a more full flavor by mimicking the taste of onions, garlic and egg. While on its own it’s smell can be overpowering and somewhat unpleasant, this dissipates when introduced to hot oil or butter. Asafoetida compliments most commonly-used Indian vegetables: potatoes, onions, cauliflower, peas, and quick-cooking greens and is best used as a background note for other complimentary spices, like cumin, mustard seeds, dried chiles, curry leaves, ginger, and garlic. It is available at any Indian grocery and is generally sold pre-ground. A pinch or two per dish is sufficient so the smallest container goes a long way. Note: Keep it very well sealed jar lest your whole cabinet smell!
Recipe: Asafoetida-Ginger Tea (Respiratory Relief)
- In a glass of warm water, mix together one-half teaspoon of both asafetida powder and dry ginger powder with two tablespoons of honey.
Have this mixture at least three times a day for relief from a dry cough, whooping cough, bronchitis and asthma.