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Asafoetida is a spice that is best known for its strong, some would say disgusting, smell. The French are the most honest about its smell, calling it 'Merde du Diable' (the shit of the devil).

However once it is cooked its flavor tempers a great deal and it adds an onion like taste to foods. It is widely used in Indian cooking, especially in northern India. It is prized by the trader caste of Hindus and certain Jains who are not allowed to eat onions as part of their religious beliefs. Most others incorporate it into dishes as it has strong digestive powers, supposedly reducing flatulence (which is why it is widely used in bean and lentil dishes).

Asafoetida should be stored well sealed and away from other foods, otherwise they will be contaminated by its smell.

In Hindu asafoetida is known as hing.