Hing is a popular spice in Indian subcontinent. It is used to enhance flavor of many traditional dishes. Almost every household must have a small bottle of hing in their kitchen inventory. It is extensively use in Northern Indian cuisines or South Indian cuisines. There are so many Indian dishes that you can not make without using heeng. You can say that it is an indispensable part of Indian cooking. Many people would say it has bad smell and it seriously tastes bitter. That is why it is also called a ‘devil’s dung’. But do you know what is called hing spice in English? How many of you know actual meaning hing in English?
What is called hing in English?
Hing is called asafoetida or asafetida in English. It is derived from latin word ” fetid”.
It is also called hengu (in Odisha), Kayam (in Malayalam), Heeng (in Bengali), Ingu (in Kannada), Inguva (in Telugu) etc. Due to its strong flavor, it is also known as devil’s dung in English. Though it sounds weird because we used it extensively in cooking.
What is heeng / hing?
Hing is a gum extracted from a plant. Traditionally that resin like plant gum is crushed by using hammer or mortar pestle and then use in cooking. Now you start thinking about the name of that plant. Okay, I won’t forget to mention the name of that plant.
If you are thinking that plant is native to India because Indians use this spice extensively. There are so many Indian dishes what won’t be so tasty without adding hing. But the plant is a desert plant. Those plants grow in desert of Iran as well as Afghanistan. You can notice such plants in the mountains of Afghanistan. The name of the plant is Ferula. It is a perennial and flowering plant. Recently it is also cultivated in Kashmir as well as some parts of Punjab. It can grows upto 2 m height. All parts of this plant has unpleasant smell.
So hing is nothing but the dried sap obtained from the root or stem of that plant. That resin or gum or dried sap looks like yellowish substance. It needs to be ground into powder. It contains dimethyl trisulfide. Experts say that dimethyl trisulfide is the reason behind the strong flavor of asafetida or hing.
Benefits of hing (Asafoetida in English)
Many people are super health conscious. But foodies do not bother much about all those things. They choose something what is tasty. If it is not tasty then why should we eat that. Just for nutrition values, like a medicine? Huh!!
The main benefits of hing is that it enhance taste & flavor of a dish. When ‘tadka’ is preparing for a dish and hing is adding then it fills the whole house with a strong aroma and mouth with water, haha. Is it not true? A simple dal curry becomes super delicious food when hing is added in tadka. Do you know tadka? Huh, that means you does not exist in the world of Indian food.
- Asafoetida is beneficial for digestive system. It is said that it helps in digestion and provide relief from gastritis, abdominal pain etc.
- It is also beneficial for cardiac health. Many experts claim that it helps to control asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, cough and cold etc.
- Many people say that it helps in diabetes management. Some people claimed that it may control insulin release from pancreases.
- It has antibiotic property. That is why it is used to get relief from the pain from insect bites or strings.
Usage of hing (Indian spice Asafoetida in English)
There are hundreds of dishes where asafoetida is normally used. But North Indian dal is one thing where you have add hing, otherwise it won’t be that much delicious. Not only that there are many types of dal and hing is used in almost every type. Hing make dal palak, Punjabi masoor dal fry, arhar dal etc.
Chole bhature is a popular breakfast food or light meal in North India. Hing is used to make chhole more flavorful. When winter comes people love aloo gobi with roti/naan/paratha. Hing is also used to bring flavor in aloo gobi dry.
Hing is also added to many South Indian dishes. In fact people can fight on the discussion that who use asafoetida most – South Indian people or North Indian people. Many people will say North Indian people and many will say South Indian people. Actually, it is popular in both the region.
It is also very extensively used in Rajasthani cuisine. But I think heeng is not so popular in Eastern Indian states. It is hardly used in any Bengali dish. I think it is also true for North Eastern states. So my North Eastern readers, what do you say? Do you use it in your cooking?