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Many Benefits of Heeng or Asafoetida
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Many Benefits of Heeng or Asafoetida

Recent discussion about asafoetida on The Flaming Vegan inspired me to write this post. Commonly called 'Heeng' in India, it is a cooking ingredient and also used as a medicine. I mentioned it first in my post "Cheela - Quick Vegan Omelette for Everyone to Love!" mainly because of its Anti-flatulent property.

Asafoetida is a perennial herb, mostly grown in Afghanistan and is widely used in Indian cuisine. It is actually a resin but is very hard and is available in market in powdered form. It also comes in resin form but is not used much. Apart from cooking, it is a useful remedy for different ailments related to the stomach. It is also effective when applied externally. It is a common practice to rub it on the belly of a little baby to aid better digestion.

It has a pungent, Sulphur like smell and it takes some time for people to get used to it. Excessive intestinal gas is called flatulence and since it prevents that it is said to be an Anti-flatulent. Most lentils and few beans are known to create gas movements in the stomach, and hence asafoetida is used with almost every dish that includes lentils (dals), chickpeas, dry peas etc.

Apart from improving digestion, it also works against cough and bronchitis. It has a strong smell and even that smell has its medicinal properties. It is often hung in a cloth near the patient and is still effective. Indians add it to a spoon of hot ghee (Indian clarified butter) to reduce its odor and taste better.

It is used in Unani as well as Ayurvedic medicine for its antimicrobial, antiepileptic and anti-viral properties (destroys disease causing micro-organisms, prevents epilepsy, fights viruses). It is also known to balance the air element in the body, according to Ayurveda.

It is known by different names in different states of India and outside. Few common names are hing/heeng, ting, giant fennel, devil's dung (due to its smell), stinking gum etc.

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  1. Sumit  Bhardwaj
    Sumit Bhardwaj
    "Hing" has always been my best friend since childhood. My mom cooking almost every dish with atleast a hint of it, which justifies my excellent digestion system :D It is safe for use with infants also, when they have digestion problem, its common to put some Hing mixed with a little bit of hot water at the place where the umbilical chord is cut off. Its a well known cure in India.
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    1. Akanksha
      Akanksha
      Thanks for reading Sumit!
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  2. Carolyn
    Carolyn
    Vote #4! Akanksha, I have never heard of Heeng or Asafoetida. Thanks for the article.
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    1. Akanksha
      Akanksha
      Thanks Carolyn!
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  3. Veganara
    Veganara
    Vote no 5. Great blog. I love that name "devil's dung"! I had always wondered about the name "asafoetida" actually, as "foetid" means smelly or rotten, so I didn't think it sounded very nice! Great for cooking though.
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    1. Akanksha
      Akanksha
      Thanks Maggie. I remember I also didn't like it in my childhood..but developed taste for it once I was aware of its benefits.
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  4. Kate Noel
    Kate Noel
    Great and informative blog! Thanks for explaining what it is and all its valuable properties. I'm not sure if I'll be able to find it over here but maybe I can check out an Asian market. We used to have an Indian store near a restaurant but I haven't been there in a while. Anyway, voted!
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    1. Akanksha
      Akanksha
      Thanks Kate! I just found this...wanted to include it in my blog..check out the different names of asafoetida...you will definitely find it Indian Names Hindi : Hing Bengali : Hing Gujarati : Hing Kannada : Hinger,Ingu Kashmiri : Yang, Sap Malayalam : Kayam Marathi : Hing Oriya : Hengu Punjabi : Hing Sanskrit : Badhika, Agudagandhu Tamil : Perungayam Telugu : Inguva, Ingumo Urdu : Hing Name in international languages English : Devil's dung Persian : Angustha-Gandha French : Ferule Asafoetida German : Stinkendes steckenkraut Arabic : Tyib, Haltheeth Sinhalese : Perumkayam
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  5. abhasklal
    Good to see article on this topic. From ancient times, hing is used as medicine for hysteria, paralysis, indigestion, cough as well as impotency.
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    1. Akanksha
      Akanksha
      Thanks! I didn't know about all these
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  6. Roopam
    Used in many recipes in India like chickpea curry...is great for digestion...voted!
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  7. dianabart
    dianabart
    Giant fennel I've tried... thanks for the awesome info. voted! :-)
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  8. pftsusan
    pftsusan
    Vote #11. I was out of votes this morning. I'm not now. I think this is very good. Something for me to look into.
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  9. parneesha211
    nice article..
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  10. Cru
    I'm wondering if you know more about this which says that Hing is aged in animal skins? http://www.culinate.com/articles/produce_diaries/asafetida If that's so then it's not vegan. :(
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