I did not realise the amount of flavour that the uses of hing gives to our sambhar and rasam until, one day, I cooked them without hing and tasted the concoction. D Balasubramanian, in his latest column writes about the culinary and other uses of hing:
What gives it the pungent smell? It is the sulphides, the simplest of them being the one from the Kipp’s apparatus of high school chemistry lab.
The major component, 2-butyl 1-propenyl disulphide, is so “stinking” that the Europeans called it asafoetida – Asa from the Persian word for resin and foetida meaning ‘stinking’ in Latin. More colorfully it was called the devil’s dung – both for its shape and smell.
Ferula asafoetida is not grown in India, and is a native of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan and that region of central Asia.
Have a look!