Asafoetida (Hing)

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Asafoetida is the English name for the dried latex of the gum exuded from the rhizone of the herb known as Ferula.  It is  thought to be in the same genus as silphium, a plant now believed to be extinct. The species is native to the deserts of Afghanistan, India and Iran.   
Raw Asafoetida has a pungent smell but when cooked it delivers a smooth flavour reminiscent of leeks.  In India, people who do not use garlic for religious reasons use Asafoetida as a substitute.

This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment and in pickling. It plays a critical flavouring role in Indian vegetarian cuisine by acting as an umami enhancer.  Used along with turmeric, it is a standard component of lentil curries  such as dhal, sambar as well as in numerous vegetable dishes, especially those based on potato and cauliflower.  Kashmiri brahmans who do not use garlic use it in their lamb dishes like Rogan Josh.   The spice is added to the food at the time of tempering.  Ground asafoetida (just a pinch) can be mixed with salt and eaten with raw salad.

Read more about how it is used in traditional medicine here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3459456/