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Terminology

Heeng

Heeng
Heeng

Heeng The Indian spice Heeng (asafetida in English) is a staple of Northern Indian cooking. It has a unique unpleasant strong aroma and flavour. It appears like alum. One can add it to lentils or vegetables by sautéing it in clarified butter or ghee. The grainy powder of the sticky brown lump, believed to be the hardened gum sap of a particular variety of fennel plant, can be transformed into a seasoning to be used in foods. In his book, The Book of Spice, author John O'Connell shares that Heeng was first brought to India back in the 16th century by the Mughals from the Middle East. It is a strong spice that can transform the dish into something magical, musky, aromatic and intense with just a tiny pinch of it.

Heeng (Heeng or asafoetida) is not only added to potatoes, poori stuffings but can be found in the popular South Indian lentil-based dishes like sambar and Punjabi recipe curry pakora. It can be added to yoghurt to marinate the meat. Heeng adds a special umami flavour (one of the five basic tastes) or a kind of distinct savouriness to the dish. It can be added to vegetable curries with red chilli powder (Lal Mirch powder), cumin (jeera) and pisa dhania to get a mellow flavour.

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