Asafoetida /hing/ is a staple ingredient in all Indian family & commercial kitchens. It is made by extracting and drying the sap from the stem and roots of the ferula plant.
Hing is traditionally used in Ayurveda as a digestive aid. It plays a critical role in Indian cuisine by acting as a flavour enhancer. Used alongside spices like turmeric or cumin, it is a standard component of all lentil/dhal dishes and curries, especially those based on potato and cauliflower. It is sometimes used to harmonise sweet, sour, salty and spicy components in food. The spice is added to the food at the time of tempering the spices. Sometimes hing (in small quantities) can be mixed with salt and eaten with raw salad.
Hing is an extremely strong scented spice, so it should be stored in the provided air tight container. It is also used by those that cannot eat onion or garlic (for example, on a low FODMAP diet) as it does impart a flavour similar to onion.
Here is my recipe for a Shahi Paneer which uses Hing as one of the base ingredients to build flavour.
Please note: hing contains wheat starch.