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Healthy Vegetarian Foods

A-Z Of Spices – Featuring Asafoetida/Hing

I am trying to play cathup and I do understand that Asafoetida starts with the letter A – but the Indian name starts with the letter H – so i am sticking to that story – also i wanted to feature this spice because of its importance and relevance in vegetarian and vegan food preperation.

Hing or Asafoetida – is basically a dried latex – derived from the rhizome of several species of ‘Ferula’, and it belongs to the ‘Celery Family’. Asafoetida has an extraordinarily strong smell (often called stinking gum), but the smell is lost once it has been added to the cooking process – when cooked it resembles the flavour of leeks, onions and other onion like family members

Hing/asafoetida is used as digestive aid and as a condiment – it is an integral part of Indian vegetarian foods. It is a “must have” ingredient for lentil, dhal, beans, chick peas, cauliflower and ‘potatoes’, yes – potatoes – and potatoes are a gaseous vegetable – many of us don’t know and don’t treat it as a gaseous vegetable. For many dishes it is simply used as a ‘flavour enhancer’ or sometimes it is used to balance the tastes of sweet, sour and salty. To be able to extract the best out of hing/asafoetida – it is added during the time of the tempering process and this tempered mixture is added to the cooked dish and mixed in. Hing/asafoetida in its pure form is sold in chunks and bits are scraped or grated off to be used in cooking – however the odour of it in its pure form is very strong and can take over your home – it is best to buy the powder form and store the container it comes in – in another glass jar – so as to eliminate the strong smell.

This is one of those spices that does not have its roots in India (its roots go back to Persia – close to India) – but it is synonymous with Indian cuisine. Alexander the great brought it to the Mediterranean countries, when returning from his trip to ancient Persia. Jewish literature also makes mention of asafoetida – it is believed that during the rainy season warm foods with a hint of mustard and asafoetida is of great health benefits. Europe has now forgotten about the health benefits of consuming asafoetida – however India and Indian cuisine is not the same without the added health and taste benefits of asafoetida.

Health & Wellness Benefits of Asafoetida

  • Aids in reducing stomach ailments, IBS, and bloating – its anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties help in dealing with such health problems. Ensure you consume a dash(2ml) per day, and it can be added to the gravies of your food or just dissolve it in some water and “down” it as quick as possible – consume it on an empty stomach – so as to keep bloating and gas away.  The next time you are plagued with ‘digestive system blues’, take out the spice box for your “bloating and gas rescue remedy”. Consuming it on a regular basis will eventually strengthen your digestive system – thereby ensuring you are not plagued with stomach ailments
  • Its anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and antibiotic effects can assist in relieving respiratory disorders prepare a paste of asafoetida and water – apply on your chest and wrap with a piece of cloth or some rather large bandage. Another recommendation is to mix asafoetida, ginger powder and a bit of ginger – consume this and it will aid in loosening the phlegm in the chest
  • It could be of benefit to naturally thin the blood and reducing blood pressure levels, and it improves blood flow – whereby it can reduce/prevent blood clots
  • Menstrual pain – nightmare of most woman – however don’t despair – asafoetida could be your “menstrual pain reliever” – make a buttermilk drink with a pinch each of asafoetida, fenugreek powder, pinch of cumin and salt to taste – consume this during your menstrual cycle
  • Headaches – the anti-inflammatory properties of asafoetida – reduce inflammation or blood vessels – thereby reducing the headache. For this – heat a pinch of asafoetida in some water and consume – this should be taken 4-5 times a day to be able to reap the full benefit
  • Insect bites and stings – asafoetida is a natural antidote – mix some garlic and asafoetida and apply to affected areas

Beauty Benefits of Asafoetida

  • Acne – once again the anti-inflammatory benefits aid in minimizing the acne and the anti-bacterial properties – restrict the growth of pimples and rashes. Add rose water, some chick-pea flour, course maize meal and a pinch of asafoetida – make a paste and apply to affected areas – leave on for 20-25minutes before rinsing off with cool water. Repeat the process 2-3 times a day till all signs of the acne have gone
  • Want to add some glow to your face – asafoetida increases in oxygen supply to facial tissues – that gives your face a natural glow. Take some rose water, asafoetida and sandalwood powder – form a paste apply to your face on a regular basis and you will notice glowing benefits
  • Frizzy/dry hair – the moisturising components of asafoetida does wonder – make a ‘hair conditioner’ using yogurt, almond oil and some asafoetida – make a paste – rub into your hair – leave on for about an hour thereafter wash with cool water. Practice this ritual on a regular basis to ensure good end results.

Asafoetida & Ayurvedic Wisdom

The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda – a holistic approach to general health and wellbeing that hails from the land of legumes and beans and dhals and chick-peas – has a time and tried and tested solution for your post “chick-peas salad, curried beans or dhal and rice meal” – ” asafoetida” – there is not much scientific research to prove its efficiency in helping the human digestion – but there is sufficient evidence in “Ayurvedic Medicine” to prove its aid in aiding digestion. Generations of Indians have paired it with cumin, black pepper and ginger to bring out the best of its healing properties in all “difficult to digest” beans, legumes and lentils. Enjoy a ‘chick-pea salad, curried beans, or lentils and a beans burrito – and don’t despair – a dash/pinch of asafoetida is all you will need to sort your stomach woes!!!

Asafoetida to the rescue – for your natural health, wellbeing and the glow in your skin!! Go on give it a try – what do you have to lose??

NB:- this is a natural healthy ingredient to add to your daily meals – by no means is it a replacement for your medication for medical issues.

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