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Asafoetida is a dried gum derived from the rhizome or tap root plant. Native to Iran and Afghanistan, this spice has become a celebrated favorite in many Indian and Middle Eastern cultures. Sometimes referred to as the “devil’s dung,” this powerful spice has been long used as a medicinal means of treating a wide array of health ailments.
Ingested as a powder, or incorporated into a wide array of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, asafoetida has yet to hit the Western market and diet – yet! Unfortunately, while it’s often avoided due to its pungent smell, when cooked it adds a super-savory element and smooth, satisfying mouth-feel.
The Many Benefits of Asafoetida
Lowers Blood Pressure
Asafoetida is a natural blood thinner. The reason? Its high coumarin content aids in improving your blood flow and reducing its viscosity, thereby preventing blood clotting and lowering your blood pressure. Studies prove that asafoetida’s phytonutrients work to reduce arterial blood pressure, ensuring that your cardiovascular health is thriving!
Asafoetida helps release phlegm and relieve chest congestion. Known for its impressive natural powers, it has been used for centuries as a medicinal aid to asthma, coughs and bronchitis. Specifically, the oil found in the asafoetida gum is naturally eliminated through the lungs, helping treat asthmatic symptoms!
Controls Blood Sugar
Asafoetida is a natural, yet effective way to help maintain normal blood sugar levels. According to a recent study, 50 milligrams per kilograms of asafoetida extract had blood sugar-lowering effects. Its power lies in the spice’s high phenolic acid content, that works to regulate sugars in the blood.
According to a growing research pool, asafoetida has the power to reduce the onset, severity and duration of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, like alternating diarrhea and constipation, bloating, abdominal pain and mucous discharge. Impressive!
Incorporating Asafoetida Into Your Diet
It’s unlikely that asafoetida will be at your local grocery store, but that shouldn’t stop you from finding it! Asafoetida can be readily purchased online or in specialty Indian or Middle Eastern stores. If you use it as a spice, be sure to keep it in an airtight container away from any external light, heat and air to maximize its shelf-life and ensure its potent smell doesn’t fill your home.
While asafoetida is typically used in Middle Eastern cuisine, it can be readily added to recipes you already make on a regular basis. Don’t worry, its smell can be deceiving, but when you cook it, the flavor of this spice completely transforms. When you drop just a pinch of it in hot oil, it changes into a garlic-like, earthy aroma. Try adding it to bean-based (like lentils) or vegetable soups to add unique and delicious twist on a family classic!
Chaat Masala Fruit Salad
This unexpected treat combines the best of traditional Indian street foods with a refreshing and light summer classic. Its unexpected flavor combinations of pungent and savory spices with acidic citruses and fresh fruit will keep people coming back for more!
- 2 bananas
- 2 cucumbers
- 2 oranges
- 2 apples
- 1 pound strawberries
- 2 cups red grapes
- 1 teaspoon Chaat Masala
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
- 1/2 teaspoon black salt
- 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
- 3 tablespoons chopped mint or cilantro
- Chop fruit into bite sized pieces and combine in a large bowl. Reserve half of one of the oranges unsliced.
- In a small bowl, combine the chaat masala, asafoetida, black salt and lemon or lime juice. Zest the rind from the reserved half orange into the mixture and squeeze in the juice.
- Mix well and pour over the fruit mixture.
- Garnish with mint or cilantro.