Get to know your hing


As India seeks to grow the plant commercially for the first time, it looks at how Hing from Afghanistan and Iran became an integral part of the country's socio-cultural history.

The increasing popularity of the Indian subcontinent is closely linked to the entry of specific food restrictions on caste and religion. Photo: iStock

The increasing popularity of the Indian subcontinent is closely linked to the entry of specific food restrictions on caste and religion. Photo: iStock

In the past few days, Hing, or Asafoetida, has dominated the discourse, with scientists from the CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource, Palampur (IHBT), launching a pilot project to grow the plant in the Himalayas. In fact, the first sapling was planted on October 15 in the quarrying village of Lahaul Valley. This development has stunned many, who did not even know that Hing, the prime staple of most homes, was not native to India. Almost everything comes from the cold mountains of Afghanistan and Iran, growing wild and collected by talented mountaineers. "Every year, 1500 tonnes of Hing, valued at Rs 40 940 crore, are imported from Afghanistan and Iran," says Sanjay Kumar, director of IHBT, who is leading the project.

According to renowned academic and food historian Pushpesh Pant, parts of Kashmir are growing hing, but it is not as good as it comes from Afghanistan. “Can you divide India's history from the 1947 political map? Earlier, India's borders reached the borders of Afghanistan. It is therefore natural for Hing to enter India with some plants growing in Kashmir. ”He says.

Most people do not know how to handle the hing in its purest form. The resin extracted from the roots of the ferula Asafoetida, which comes from the Umbelliferae family, has to be stabilized with another substance, usually flour: wheat in the north and rice in the south. "Less flour used, more good or strong hing .... Hathras processing plant in UP Have pulled out a social media, which is viral.

Although the plant is not native to India, it has an inseparable connection with the socio-political history of the country. However, the story of Asphotida in ancient Rome begins beyond the borders of India. According to Kris Ashok, author of Masala Lab: The Science of Indian Cuisine, the ancient Romans had a spicy obsession with sylphium, a resin extracted from the root of the plant. “Unfortunately, we don't know what plant it is. It was extinct because it was over-harvested. So, some innovative black sellers went to the outer edges of the Roman Empire to find the mountains of today's Iran and a similar plant and forged it into Sylphium, ”he says. However, the Romans did not develop a taste for this "counterfeit sylphium" and its use in Europe almost disappeared.

The plant with the "fun smell" was Apophytida, which soon arrived in India via the Silk Route and has been a sight for the country ever since. Pant says, "The Silk Route connects the subcontinent with Mongolia, Turkey and Afghanistan. Indian travelers regularly visit Central Asia. Contains references.

Then, who can forget Kabuliwala, immortalized in the story of Rabindranath Tagore, carrying Pistachio, Kandahari Anar and Hing. The story reflects the story of the numerous Afghan merchants who came to India to cleanse these goods. Growing up, the use of hing in my home far exceeded typical culinary uses. When a child at home suffers from abdominal pain or wheezing, a small amount of hinge diluted in milk is applied for relief on the navel.

However, the increasing popularity in the Indian subcontinent is closely linked to the entry of specific dietary restrictions on caste and religion. "Hindu upper castes and Jains began to abandon meat and allium, and asphotida became the default substitute for onions and garlic, which, admittedly, makes the food super delicious. Ashok says, "So, even today, you can find Jains and Brahmins alternately using Hing. According to Pant, in Kashmir, only the Pandit community uses Hing in Kalias, Rogan Josh and more."

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