Asafetida powder functions as both a flavor enhancement and a digestive aid, but finding a store that carries this remarkable spice can be challenging. Also called hing, asafetida comes from the dried sap of a large, fennel-like plant. It has a strong, sulfurous odor, so it’s best used in small amounts as a savory seasoning for cooked vegetables, meats, grains or beans. If you can't find it in a specialty store, Indian grocer or online, use a substitute.
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Savvy Substitution Options
Asafetida powder tastes similar to both onion and garlic, so onion powder and garlic powder make comparable substitutes. Because asafetida powder usually contains rice flour or other diluting ingredients, an equal amount of garlic or onion powder matches the potent flavor. To replace asafetida’s digestive benefits, add a small amount of fennel seed, ginger or cumin -- all of these spices are digestive aids with flavors appropriate to Indian cuisine.