A large fennel-like plant that grows mainly in Iran and India. The powdered gum resin of the asafetida imparts a very strong onion-garlic flavor and is used in small quantities to Indian dishes. This spice is not known much outside India. The taste is bitter and acrid; however, when fried lightly, it adds wonderful aroma and taste. In the spring, when the plant is about to bloom, the stems and roots are cut, and the milky resin is scraped off. The gummy resin is sun-dried into a solid mass that is sold in solid, wax-like pieces. Most raw asafetida is sent to India for further processing and sale, mostly in powdered form.
Season: available year-round
How to select: Powder or lump form in Indian markets.
How to store: Store in a dry, cool cabinet, in an airtight jar and out of direct light for several months up to a year. A fresh lump of asafetida will keep for several years.
Substitutions: garlic powder or onion powder