Introduction and description
Asafoetida, or asafetida (Ferula assa-foetida) is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, which is a perennial herb (1 to 1.5 m high). The species is native to the mountains of Afghanistan, and is mainly cultivated in nearby India. It is also known as asant, food of the gods, giant fennel, jowani badian, and hing and ting.
And asafoetida has been scientifically proven to have medicinal properties – mostly antiviral and antibiotic, although traditional medicine ascribes other properties as well.
Asafoetida contains Ferulic acid, which gives it anti-oxidant and chelating properties.
I have provided observations to show its antiviral and antibiotic capabilities. Scientists at the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan, for example, report that the roots of Asafoetida produces natural antiviral drug compounds that kill the swine flu virus, H1N1. In an article published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Natural Products, the researchers said the compounds "may serve as promising lead components for new drug development" against this type of flu, but of course this is because they want to sell drugs. It is a lot easier to simply eat asafoetida and enjoy the benefits. There is scientific evidence for the following capabilities
- Antiflatulent. Asafoetida reduces the growth of unwanted bacteria in the gut, reducing flatulence. In the Jammu region of India, asafoetida is used as a medicine for flatulence and constipation by over half the local population.
- A digestion aid. In Thailand and India, it is used to aid digestion
- Treatment for abdominal injuries – asafoetida is smeared on the abdomen in an alcohol or water tincture known as mahahing. Assafoetida in this tincture form was used in western medicine as a topical treatment for abdominal injuries during the 18th and 19th centuries. Again it is the anti-bacterial properties that are being harnessed
- Fighting influenza: Asafoetida was used in 1918 to fight the Spanish influenza pandemic. In effect, it has antiviral properties. In 2009, researchers reported that the roots of Asafoetida produce natural antiviral drug compounds
- An antimicrobial: Asafoetida has a broad range of uses in traditional medicine as an antimicrobial, with well documented uses for treating chronic bronchitis and whooping cough
Use it in cooking and eat it. You don't need a drug based on it, you just need to use asafoetida in your cooking.
In cooked dishes, it delivers a smooth very distinct and delicious flavour. It is especially nice in dishes with popped mustard seeds [black mustard seeds fried in very hot vegetable oil until they pop].
A pinch of asafoetida added to the hot oil and mustard seeds can then be used to stir fry vegetables such as grated carrot, chopped cabbage or sliced or chopped beans – all of which are delicious cooked this way.
Gujerati Trevti Dal
1 cup of mixed lentils eg chana dal, moong dal and arhar dal
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 small to medium dried chili pepper
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 dry red chili
½ tsp turmeric powder
Fresh ginger and green chili, - ½ inch, crushed to a paste
1 small tin [or fresh] chopped skinned tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
salt - as required
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
Rinse all the three lentils well in water and then soak them in water for 1 hour. Drain.
Put lentils into a heavy metal casserole [capable of being used for serving dish] with ½ tsp turmeric powder, and 2.5 cups water.
Simmer on low heat until softened and cooked thoroughly. Add more water if needed.
Lightly mash the dal with a spoon and keep aside.
Heat oil in a small pan add the cumin, mustard seeds and cloves
Stir and fry until the cumin seeds splutter and mustard pops.
Add a very generous pinch of asafoetida and dry red chilies.
Fry until the red chilies change their colour
Add 1 tsp ginger paste. Then stir and saute for about 15 to 20 seconds.
Add tomatoes, stir well until heated through
Add contents of pan to dhal, stir well and very gently reheat
Season with salt to taste.
Add lime juice.
Add I teaspoon coriander leaves. Then stir again.
Sprinkle remaining leaves over dhal
Now serve dal hot with some steamed rice and soft chapatis.
Ferula asafoetida is herbaceous plant of the umbelliferae family. It is oleo gum resin obtained from the rhizome and root of plant.
This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment and in pickles. It is used in modern herbalism in the treatment of hysteria, some nervous conditions, bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough. It was at one time employed in the treatment of infantile pneumonia and flatulent colic. The gum resin is antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, laxative, and sedative. The volatile oil in the gum is eliminated through the lungs, making this an excellent treatment for asthma. The odor of asafoetida is imparted to the breath, secretions, flatus, and gastric eructations. Its properties are antispasmodic, expectorant, stimulant, emmenagogue and vermifuge. Asafoetida has also been used as a sedative. It also thins the blood and lowers blood pressure. It is widely used in India in food and as a medicine in Indian systems of medicine like ayurveda. Asafoetida has been held in great esteem among indigenous medicines, particularly in Unani system from the earliest times. PMID: 23055640
3 large Potatoes (peeled, & diced)
1/2 tspTurmeric powder
1 Green chili slit length wise
Salt - to taste
2 tbspns Oil
1 tspn black mustard seed
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Parboil potatoes , drain well
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add mustard seeds and allow to pop
Immediately add asafoetida, green chilis and curry leaves and saute for few seconds.
Then add the diced potatoes and cook on high flame for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing the cubed potatoes frequently.
Reduce the heat, add turmeric powder and mix
Cook on low flame for about 10 minutes. Then add salt to taste and mix well.
Continue to cook the potatoes till the potatoes turn slightly crisp with a light brown shade.
References and further reading
- Pharmacogn Rev. 2012 Jul;6(12):141-6. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.99948. Ferula asafoetida: Traditional uses and pharmacological activity. Mahendra P1, Bisht S. 1Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Suresh Gyan Vihar University, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
- Traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of asafoetida (Ferula assa-foetida oleo-gum-resin)-a review. Iranshahy M, Iranshahi M. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Mar 8;134(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.11.067. Epub 2010 Dec 3. Review. PMID: 21130854
- Antispasmodic and hypotensive effects of Ferula asafoetida gum extract. Fatehi M, Farifteh F, Fatehi-Hassanabad Z. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Apr;91(2-3):321-4. PMID: 15120456
- Inhibitory effect of Ferula asafoetida L. (Umbelliferae) on Blastocystis sp. subtype 3 growth in vitro. El Deeb HK, Al Khadrawy FM, Abd El-Hameid AK. Parasitol Res. 2012 Sep;111(3):1213-21. doi: 10.1007/s00436-012-2955-1. Epub 2012 May 15. PMID: 22584378
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- Dr Duke's list of Chemicals and their Biological Activities in: Ferula assa-foetida L. (Apiaceae) -- Asafetida, Asafetida (Sp.), Asafoetida, Assa-foetida, Devil's Dung, Stinkasant (Ger.) 019909
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