Steenberg’s Asafoetida spice
Steenbergs Asafoetida – or Hing – is an important specialist spice used in traditional Indian cuisine that is purported to help with the digestion of pulses, so is great for those who eat a vegetarian diet.
Asafeotida has a flavour that is very distinctive and stinky, being somewhat fetid and sulphurous but with that initial sweetness that garlic or onion have when they start going off and ferment a bit. This unique smell gives asafoetida its coarser names of “Devil’s Dung” or “Stinking Gum”. When fried briefly in hot oil, the smell tones down and becomes a sweet, onion-like flavour, which is why Brahmins in India often cook with it as they are prohibited from eating garlic and onions. As a result, asafoetida is one of those sneaky little spices that adds something special to dishes, even when only a small amount is added; you don’t need it, but it creates an extra depth that somehow is lacking when it is removed.