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Roman’s cherished Hing or Asafoetida, however Indians popularised it

Romans loved Hing or Asafoetida but Indians popularised it
Spices assist create layers in cooking
Picture Credit score: Shutterstock

Dubai: There are greater than 40 styles of spices in India. All types has a definite flavour and color. One such fragrant spice is hing or asafoetida. This ochre-coloured condiment is derived from the resin of fennel vegetation grown abundantly within the mountains of Afghanistan and Iran. So how did this seasoning turn into part of Indian cooking?

Chatting with Gulf Information Meals, Chef Thoufeeq Zakaria of Bombay Braisserie, Taj, Dubai stated: “Once I began my profession, I assumed hing was solely utilized in Indian cooking, however as soon as I began to study extra about this spice it blew my thoughts. Hing was a celebrated ingredient in Roman delicacies, most likely earlier than the sixteenth century. There are outdated recipe books that point out this spice, as an ingredient utilized in many meat-based dishes. Whereas it’s unclear why the spice bought misplaced in Roman cookbooks, many consider it could possibly be due to the robust pungent scent and flavour.”

Sous Chef Thoufeeq Zakaria, Taj Dubai
Sous Chef Thoufeeq Zakaria, Taj Dubai
Picture Credit score: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf Information

Recalling a Portuguese Jewish doctor, herbalist and naturalist – Garcia de Orta’s e-book – The flora of Indian subcontinent, Chef Thoufeeq explains how he was amazed by this versatile spice’s recognition in Europe, sadly forgotten now.

As per the US National Libr Medicine’s article on asafoetida, the smell is described as fetid and taste nauseating
As per the US Nationwide Library of Drugs’s article on asafoetida, the scent is described as fetid and style nauseating
Picture Credit score: Shutterstock

He stated: “I keep in mind studying the e-book and was intrigued to learn the way hing was utilized in meals and medicines in India.” In author John O’Connel’s e-book – The e-book of spice, it’s talked about that Mughals first introduced hing to India within the sixteenth century.

It appears like a rock in its uncooked type, however one largely finds it in its powdered incarnation in pantries. It’s protected to say that simply because the miso paste provides an umami flavour to Japanese delicacies, hing is to Indian cooking.

As per romanobritain.org, asafoetida (typically referred to as hing) has stayed largely true to its roots. Individuals from France to Turkey have coined every kind of names for it, of which “satan’s sweat” is without doubt one of the well mannered ones. Meals historians consider that this spice was used to deal with illnesses, a promising ingredient but a pungent-smelling one. Upon cooking, the pungent aroma reduces to a light scent. Think about how the mixture of garlic and leek could be. One thing related.

As per the US Nationwide Library of Drugs’s article on asafoetida, the scent is described as fetid and style nauseating. In earlier occasions, a small piece was worn across the neck to keep at bay ailments reminiscent of a chilly. It’s not sure if the scent warded off individuals or it actually had a medicinal property. In historic Iran, this spice was used as a condiment and was referred to as ‘meals of the deities’. Whereas many French cooks would rub this spice on sizzling plates, sometimes used for serving beef steak. Many recipes for Worcestershire sauce, a fermented condiment common in English delicacies, makes use of a touch of asafoetida as an ingredient.

This pungent smelling spice is broadly recognized for its medicinal properties throughout numerous cultures. For example, sizzling water extract of the dried gum is consumed for whooping cough in Afghanistan. In China, it’s used as a vermifuge (an agent that destroys or expels parasitic worms), and within the Center East it’s utilized in treating cough, bronchial asthma and bronchitis, whereas Indians use it as a digestive assist and for abdomen aches.

Head Chef Faizan Ali at Khyber restaurant, Dubai, instructed Gulf Information Meals: “Many Indian communities in India use hing, particularly Jains (a group recognized to devour vegetarian meals, together with rooted greens reminiscent of potato, garlic, onion). It’s generally utilized in chonk or tempering. Other than this, it’s recognized to have well being advantages too; as an example, it’s good for the abdomen particularly throughout abdomen illnesses or to deal with flatulence.”

Head chef Faizan Ali at Khyber, Dukes the Palm, Dubai
Head chef Faizan Ali at Khyber, Dukes the Palm, Dubai
Picture Credit score: Stefan Lindeque/Gulf Information

Why does India not develop this spice?

As a lot as Indians love this spice, its subtropical and humid local weather makes it difficult to develop the plant. Asafoetida thrives in dry soil and average temperatures beneath 35C. For this reason most of this spice is imported from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. And it’s then processed and packaged within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Solely final yr did India resolve to begin rising this plant within the chilly valleys of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir.

Hing – its many varieties and makes use of in Indian cooking

Asafoetida is without doubt one of the most distinctive spices utilized in south Indian delicacies. It’s recognized for its means to rework a dish into one thing magical. Head Chef Bharat Sarkar at Nawab restaurant, Dubai stated: “Hing is broadly used within the southern and northern a part of India. Within the southern area meals, it’s used as an alternative to onion and garlic. Whereas within the northern half, hing is used as a remaining garnish on gravies or curries.” It’s also utilized in achaar or pickles.

Based on Chef Zakaria, hing will be discovered in lots of varieties. “Now we have the uncooked sticky type or complicated, stone-like type. Generally it comes premixed with wheat flours and different spices. Nonetheless, the combined type tastes a lot milder due to its dilution, making it extra common lately.”

Chef Sarkar added: “Hing can be utilized in many alternative methods. One can use them as a garnish by sautéing them in ghee or clarified butter with a mix of different herbs and sprinkling it on curries. Nonetheless, use solely a pinch because it has a robust flavour. Within the UAE, I’ve noticed, not many individuals are keen on this spice, perhaps due to its pungency.” Whereas a pinch of hing is greater than sufficient for many dishes, one must understand how a lot and for the way lengthy to warmth it. If used an excessive amount of, it may find yourself turning the dish bitter in style.

Head chef Bharat Sarkar, Nawab restaurant, Dubai
Head chef Bharat Sarkar, Nawab restaurant, Dubai
Picture Credit score: Equipped

Here’s a recipe by Chef Sarkar utilizing hing:

Hing aloo recipe
Hing aloo recipe
Picture Credit score: Shutterstock

Preparation time: quarter-hour 

1.5 tbsp cumin seeds or jeera

1 tsp purple or chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder or haldi

1/2 tsp coriander powder or dhania

1 tsp ginger, finely chopped

1/2 tsp dry mango powder or amchur

Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

1. Wash and clear the child potatoes.

2. Boil the potatoes with water and salt. When it’s cooked, mash it erratically. Leaving chunks of potatoes as is.

3. In a pan, warmth mustard oil on excessive warmth after which add cumin seeds and hing. After they start to crackle, add the ginger and blend nicely.

4. Add purple chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, salt and blend within the potatoes instantly.

5. With the assistance of a spatula, mix it nicely, then sauté for five minutes on a low flame till the potatoes get a calmly roasted texture and an outer crust.

6. Add dry mango powder in the direction of the top, don’t prepare dinner it. Including this provides a barely tangy style and balances out all of the flavours.

Garnish with finely chopped contemporary coriander leaves. Get pleasure from Aloo Hing with contemporary poori or puri – deep-fried Indian bread or phulka – unleavened Indian flatbread.

Recipe courtesy: Chef Bharat Sarkar, Head chef at Nawab restaurant, Dubai

Inform us about your favorite dishes or recipes at food@gulfnews.com

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