Have you ever noticed the slightly pungent aroma that hits your nostrils when your mom is tempering dal? Has the pale yellow substance that you see being added to temperings in numerous Indian cooking videos ever confused you? If yes, here is the supercharger of most Indian foods to answer your questions and confusions- asafoetida. Colloquially known as hing, asafoetida is one of the most vital flavouring ingredients in Indian cuisine. Available as a coarse yellow powder, asafoetida is mostly added to temperings to add to the aroma and flavour of a dish. It is basically a gum extracted from ferula, a herb that belongs to the celery family. Asafoetida is not only used in Indian food but also in Middle Eastern and most Asian cuisines to add a pungent flavour and aroma to the dish.

At my house, most dishes like aloo gobhi, dal and matar paneer cannot go without a pinch of asafoetida in them and I believe it is no different in many other Indian households. However, if you are out of hing, here are some substitutes that’ll instill a similar flavour and aroma in your dishes.

1. Sautee garlic in ghee

We all know the strong punch of flavours that garlic adds to any dish. In case of unavailability of asafoetida, you can saute some chopped or minced garlic in Desi ghee and add it to your dish for the same pungency and aroma.

2. Minced leeks with minced garlic

Mince some leeks and garlic and mix them well. Add half a teaspoon of this mixture to your curry and dal temperings and you are good to go.

3. Garlic powder and onion powder

If you have garlic powder and onion powder in your pantry and want to cook something with asafoetida, then your job is done. Onion and garlic have a pungent edge to them that will add a similar flavour and aroma to your dish as asafoetida. Mix both these powders in the ratio of 1:1 and add them to your tempering.

Now that you know the substitutes, the unavailability of asafoetida in your pantry shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your favourite meal. Do try these alternatives and let us know how your dishes turn out.