Asafoetida

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Asafoetida
Ferula scorodosma syn. assa-foetida
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Asterids
Order:Apiales
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Ferula
Species:F. assa-foetida
Binomial name
Ferula assa-foetida
L.
 
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Asafoetida
Ferula scorodosma syn. assa-foetida
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Asterids
Order:Apiales
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Ferula
Species:F. assa-foetida
Binomial name
Ferula assa-foetida
L.

Asafoetida, or asafetida (Ferula assa-foetida) /æsəˈfɛtɨdə/,[1] is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, a perennial herb that grows 1 to 1.5 m tall. The species is native to the mountains of Afghanistan, and is mainly cultivated in nearby India.[2] As its name suggests, asafoetida has a fetid smell[3] (see etymology below) but in cooked dishes it delivers a smooth flavor, reminiscent of leeks.

It is also known as asant, food of the gods, giant fennel, jowani badian, stinking gum, Devil's dung, hing and ting.[3]

Uses[edit]

Cooking[edit]

This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickles. It typically works as a flavor enhancer and, used along with turmeric, is a standard component of Indian cuisine, particularly in lentil curries, such as dal, or various 'Pappu' like dosakaya(cucumber), mamidikaya(mango) or tomato pappu. as well as in numerous vegetable dishes. It is especially widely used in South Indian and Maharashtrian cuisine, which is mainly vegetarian, and is often used to harmonize sweet, sour, salty and spicy components in food. It is used to hallmark the taste of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu sambar, a saucy dish made with cereals and lentils. The spice is added to the food at the time of Chaunk / Popu/ tadka(tempering). Sometimes dried and ground asafoetida (in very mild quantity) can be mixed with salt and eaten with raw salad. In its pure form, its odour is so strong the aroma will contaminate other spices stored nearby if it is not stored in an airtight container: many commercial preparations of asafoetida utilize the resin ground up and mixed with a larger volume of wheat flour:[4] the mixture is sold in sealed plastic containers with a small hole at the bottom, allowing the diluted spice to be dusted lightly over the food being cooked. However, its odour and flavour become much milder and more pleasant upon heating in oil or ghee, acquiring a taste and aroma reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic.[5] It is used especially by the merchant caste of the Hindus and by adherents of Jainism and Vaishnavism, particularly in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, who do not eat onions or garlic. It is used in many vegetarian and lentil dishes to add both flavor and aroma, as well as to reduce flatulence.[6]

Medical applications[edit]

Other uses[edit]

History in the West[edit]

It was familiar in the early Mediterranean, having come by land across Iran. Though it is generally forgotten now in Europe, it is still widely used in India (commonly known there as hing). It emerged into Europe from a conquering expedition of Alexander the Great, who, after returning from a trip to northeastern Persia, thought they had found a plant almost identical to the famed silphium of Cyrene in North Africa—though less tasty. Dioscorides, in the first century, wrote, "the Cyrenaic kind, even if one just tastes it, at once arouses a humour throughout the body and has a very healthy aroma, so that it is not noticed on the breath, or only a little; but the Median [Iranian] is weaker in power and has a nastier smell." Nevertheless, it could be substituted for silphium in cooking, which was fortunate, because a few decades after Dioscorides's time, the true silphium of Cyrene became extinct, and asafoetida became more popular amongst physicians, as well as cooks.[21]

Asafoetida is also mentioned multiple times in Jewish literature, such as the Mishnah.[22] Maimonides also writes in the Mishneh Torah "In the rainy season, one should eat warm food with much spice, but a limited amount of mustard and asafoetida."[23]

Asafoetida was described by a number of Arab and Islamic scientists and pharmacists. Avicenna discussed the effects of asafoetida on digestion. Ibn al-Baitar and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi described some positive medicinal affects of it on the respiratory system.[24]

After the Roman Empire fell, until the 16th century, asafoetida was rare in Europe, and if ever encountered, it was viewed as a medicine. "If used in cookery, it would ruin every dish because of its dreadful smell," asserted García de Orta's European guest. Nonsense, García replied, "nothing is more widely used in every part of India, both in medicine and in cookery. All the Hindus who can afford it buy it to add to their food."[21]

Cultivation and manufacture[edit]

The resin-like gum comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots and is used as a spice. The resin is greyish-white when fresh but dries to a dark amber color. The asafoetida resin is difficult to grate and is traditionally crushed between stones or with a hammer. Today, the most commonly available form is compounded asafoetida, a fine powder containing 30% asafoetida resin, along with rice flour and gum arabic.

Ferula assafoetida is a monoecious, herbaceous, perennial plant of the family Umbelliferae, also called Apiaceae. It grows to 2 meters high, with a circular mass of 30–40 cm leaves. Stem leaves have wide sheathing petioles. Flowering stems are 2.5–3 meters high and 10 cm thick and hollow, with a number of schizogenous ducts in the cortex containing the resinous gum. Flowers are pale greenish yellow produced in large compound umbels. Fruits are oval, flat, thin, reddish brown and have a milky juice. Roots are thick, massive, and pulpy. They yield a resin similar to that of the stems. All parts of the plant have the distinctive fetid smell.[25]

Composition[edit]

Typical asafoetida contains about 40–64% resin, 25% endogeneous gum, 10–17% volatile oil, and 1.5–10% ash. The resin portion is known to contain asaresinotannols 'A' and 'B', ferulic acid, umbelliferone and four unidentified compounds.[26]

Etymology[edit]

The English name is derived from asa, a Latinized form of Farsi azā, meaning "resin", and Latin foetidus meaning "smelling, fetid", which refers to its strong sulfurous odour. It is called ಇಂಗು (ingu) in Kannada, ఇంగువ (inguva) in Telugu and பெருங்காயம் (perunkayam) in Tamil. Its pungent odour has resulted in it being known by many unpleasant names; In French it is known (among other names) as merde du Diable, meaning "Devil's faeces",[27] in English it is sometimes called Devil's dung, and equivalent names can be found in most Germanic languages (e.g. German Teufelsdreck,[28] Swedish dyvelsträck, Dutch duivelsdrek[27] and Afrikaans duiwelsdrek). Also, in Finnish it is called pirunpaska or pirunpihka, and in Turkish it is known as seytantersi, seytan bökösu or seytanotu.[27]

Popular culture[edit]

Penrod, an 11-year-old boy in a 1929 Booth Tarkington story set in the midwestern United States, suffers intensely for being forced to wear a bag of asafoetida on his neck and encounters a girl in the same condition.

In the "Tooth or Consequences" episode (Episode #19; October 13, 1972) of the comedy TV series Sanford and Son, Fred Sanford wears an asafoetida bag to get rid of a bad toothache.

In the movie El Dorado (1966), asafoetida was a component of a hangover remedy that was introduced by James Caan's character "Mississippi".

In the "Snidely's Sawmill" episode of Dudley Do-Right, villain Snidely Whiplash tells Nell Fenwick preparatory to her being tied to a log that "Because, Miss Fenwick, beneath this black exterior there lies a mustard plaster and over the mustard plaster lies an asafoetida bag. On it, imprinted in pica are the words, "Whippy Loves Nelly!""

In the "Incident at Red River Station", Season 2, Episode 13 (1960) of Rawhide, townspeople wear an asafoetida bag to ward off smallpox.

In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP) area of Pakistan, people hang a small bag of asafoetida around the neck or tie it around the arm to keep safe from seasonal, bacterial and viral illnesses, the efficacy of which might have more to do with repelling potentially infected people rather than the disease-causing organisms themselves.

In Robertson Davies's novel, Fifth Business, the barber Milo and his father hung bags of asafoetida around their necks to fight the Spanish flu.[29]

In Sinclair Lewis' novel Arrowsmith the protagonist smells asafoetida as part of a fraternity initiation.

In Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World, 'beta' children are given a whiff of asafoetida, accompanied by descriptions of 'deltas' as being undesirable to play with, during 'sleep conditioning,' in order to condition them to play only with members of their caste.

In "To Kill A Mockingbird", Scout describes the clean smells of the attendees at the First Purchase African M.E. Church, saying there was "Hearts of Love hairdressing mingled with asafoetida, snuff, Hoyt's Cologne, Brown's Mule, peppermint, and lilac talcum".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. "asafœtida". Second edition, 1989.
  2. ^ http://www.indianspices.com/html/s062hasf.htm
  3. ^ a b Literature Search Unit (Jan 2013). Ferula Asafoetida: Stinking Gum. Scientific literature search through SciFinder on Ferula asafetida. Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine. 
  4. ^ Vandevi Hing (Asafetida) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JMDJ52
  5. ^ http://www.pataks.co.uk/cooking/spices/asafoetida.php
  6. ^ "I Spice: Asafetida". 23 April 2010. 
  7. ^ S. K. Garg, A. C. Banerjea, J. Verma and M. J. Abraham, "Effect of Various Treatments of Pulses on in Vitro Gas Production by Selected Intestinal Clostridia". Journal of Food Science, Volume 45, Issue 6 (p. 1601–1602).
  8. ^ Hemla Aggarwal and Nidhi Kotwal. Foods Used as Ethno-medicine in Jammu. Ethno-Med, 3(1): 65–68 (2009)
  9. ^ http://www.thaitanthai.com/product_info.php/cPath/46/products_id/491
  10. ^ [1] Tips for Health: Wofome[dead link]
  11. ^ Beaumont, William: Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion (McLachlan & Stewart, Edinburgh, 1888), p.15
  12. ^ Lee, CL; Chia-Lin Lee, Lien-Chai Chiang, Li-Hung Cheng, Chih-Chuang Liaw, Mohamed H. Abd El-Razek, Fang-Rong Chang, Yang-Chang Wu (August 19, 2009 (Web)). "Influenza A (H1N1) Antiviral and Cytotoxic Agents from Ferula assa-foetida". Journal of Natural Products xxx (xx): 1568–72. doi:10.1021/np900158f. PMID 19691312. 
  13. ^ Ancient Chinese Remedy May Work for Flu http://www.livescience.com/health/090910-flu-remedy.html
  14. ^ [2][dead link]
  15. ^ Srinivasan, K.(2005) "Role of Spices Beyond Food Flavoring: Nutraceuticals with Multiple Health Effects", Food Reviews International, 21:2, 167–188
  16. ^ John M. Riddle 1992. Contraception and abortion from the ancient world to the Renaissance. Harvard University Press p. 28 and references therein.
  17. ^ Traditional Systems of Medicine. Abdin, M Z, Abdin, Y P Abrol. Published 2006 Alpha Science Int'l Ltd. ISBN 81-7319-707-5
  18. ^ p. 74, The Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai, Lotus Light, 1991. ISBN 978-0-914955-06-1.
  19. ^ "Ferula asafoetida: Traditional uses and pharmacological activity". Retrieved 2013-05-27. 
  20. ^ MacGregor Mathers, Samuel Liddell, ed. (1889). "VII". The Key of Solomon (Clavicula Salomonis). London: George Redway. "Then he shall kindle a fire with dry rue, upon which he shall put powdered assafoetida, and other things of evil odour; after which let him put the aforesaid names, written on parchment or virgin paper, upon the fire, saying: [...]" 
  21. ^ a b Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices. Andrew Dalby. 2000. University of California Press. Spices/ History. 184 pages. ISBN 0-520-23674-2
  22. ^ m. Avodah Zarah ch. 1; m. Shabbat ch. 20; et al.
  23. ^ Mishneh Torah, Laws of Opinions (Hilchot Deot) 4:8.
  24. ^ Avicenna (1999). The Canon of Medicine (al-Qānūn fī'l-ṭibb), vol. 1. Laleh Bakhtiar (ed.), Oskar Cameron Gruner (trans.), Mazhar H. Shah (trans.). Great Books of the Islamic World. ISBN 978-1-871031-67-6
  25. ^ Abstract from Medicinal Plants of the World, Volume 3, Chemical Constituents, Traditional and Modern Medicinal Uses. Humana Press. ISBN 978-1-58829-129-5 (Print) 978-1-59259-887-8 (Online). DOI 10.1007/978-1-59259-887-8_6. Ivan A. Ross. http://www.springerlink.com/content/k358h1m6251u5053/
  26. ^ Handbook of Indices of Food Quality and Authenticity. Rekha S. Singhal, Pushpa R. Kulkarni. 1997, Woodhead Publishing, Food industry and trade ISBN 1-85573-299-8. More information about the composition, p. 395.
  27. ^ a b c Asafoetida: die geur is des duivels! Vegatopia (in Dutch), Retrieved 8 December 2011. This used as source the book World Food Café: global vegetarian cooking by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott, 1999, ISBN 978-1-57959-060-4
  28. ^ Thomas Carlyle's well-known 19th century novel Sartor Resartus concerns a German philosopher named Teufelsdröckh.
  29. ^ Fifth Business. Penguin Books. 1970. p. 105. 

External links[edit]