Hing is reported to have travelled to Europe from Afghanistan with the phalanx of Alexander’s military when it returned right after the loss of life of the fantastic conqueror. The Romans understood it, but made use of it only for the functions of exorcism. By Renaissance, the unique ingredient was neglected. Most persons were place off by the strong odor that lingered on the breath extended after a single had consumed it. Iranian researchers like Avicenna were being conscious of its therapeutic qualities. Historical Persians named it the ‘Food of Gods’, but, unusually, none made use of it in their kitchen area.
Western descriptions of hing aka asafoetida have not been flattering. In the culinary literature, it was derisively referred to as ‘devil’s dung’ or a little bit a lot more politely as ‘stinking gum’. The resinous sticky excretions from the root of this tuber exude a robust smell that most desire to recognize as stench. To our thoughts, this is the vintage case of giving the pet dog a undesirable title and hanging it.
Our eyes were being opened, or to be precise, nostrils tantalised and the palate titillated to the pleasures of hing by our late friend, Hindi poet Kamlesh. He experienced just returned from the strife-torn Kabul and introduced back with him a kilogram of the most effective good quality stuff, jeopardizing his lifetime and limb as he searched for it in the hazardous bazaars. He was cooking a basic, nevertheless elegant, lunch for himself and the property was redolent with a weird fragrance. When we obtained curious, he quipped that it should not have been tough for a foodie to detect. To slice a very long tale shorter, that was the working day we found out the change between pure and adulterated hing. Adulterated isn’t the ideal phrase while. What we signify is hing diluted by blending it with flour. This is what is typically marketed in the sector for use in the family kitchen as bandhaani hing below various brand names. Even this requirements to be taken care of with care as use of a lot more than just a pinch of hing can mar a nicely-created dish!
Pure hing has a translucent crystalline kind and it almost shines like a gem. Admittedly, it has a quite robust overpowering odor and has to be retained in containers with restricted-fitting lids, lest it rub off on any companion on the shelf. Nevertheless, in the arms of a learn, it releases an aroma no much less alluring than saffron.
Indians have for millennia valued hing for its medicinal houses. In accordance to time-analyzed ayurvedic prescriptions, it is an effective digestive, carminative, aperitif that cuts down flatulence. Hingashtak choorna brings together asafoetida with seven other ingredients to arrive up with a desi ‘fruit salt powder’. This has furnished the inspiration for hing goli encountered at quite a few a pickle and chutney stores. This reminds us of the aam ka sukha hing wala achaar that is ideal relished with day-outdated pooris or flaky parantha at room temperature. This is a UP specialty and the greatest we at any time tasted was at a Baniya friend’s dwelling in Agra. Right after peeling the unripe mango, the stone is eliminated and the thinly sliced fruit is then pickled sans oil with salt and a contact of pink chilli powder. Cooked in the sunshine, it is merely divine.
Purveyors of chaat depend on it to put together the paani for golgappas. And can just one picture Rajasthani kachori without having hing? The Jains and Marwari communities have traditionally eschewed the tamasik garlic. Hing is substituted to supply the identical sulphur notes.
People wisdom tells us that hing should be utilised in tempering of lentils and greens that are tricky to digest or to ease the distress induced by modifying seasons. Maash lentil is a key instance of this. Lots of other lentils turn into greater following a hing-jeere ka tadka. Ditto for aloo dom and its cousins like hing jeere ke aloo and much more. There are a handful of recipes in the Kashmiri Pandit wazwan that rely only on hing to bring out the all-natural flavours of the most important component, for illustration haak and kadam saag. Chillies, dried red or contemporary eco-friendly, certainly participate in the second fiddle.
Let this not convey that hing is a responsible mate only for the vegetarians. In Kashmiri Pandit cuisine, it is a person of the trinity — hing, saunf (fennel seeds), saunth (dried ginger powder) — that will make the roganjosh arrive alive.
Hing is indispensable in everyday cooking in South India. Sambar, rasam and pickles sign-up its presence subtly. It is a favorite with the Gujaratis, who, like Marwaris, are largely vegetarian and fond of dishes prepared from gram flour (thought of really hard to digest) and are exceptionally fond of deep-fried snacks.
Ironically, even though India is the major shopper of hing in the world, the plant was under no circumstances cultivated at dwelling. Fantastic high-quality hing was imported from Afghanistan and more a short while ago from Iran and Central Asian republics. Now, nevertheless, attempts have been produced to mature hing in Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti areas of Himachal Pradesh from saplings created from seeds imported from Iran. As we await the to start with harvest, the enjoyment is mounting. Will the new chapter in the story of hing conclude with unimagined crowning glory?