Asafoetida-Why Hing or Heeng Kaayam called devil’s dung?

Asafoetida Hing Kaayam-Why  Heeng Kayam called devil’s dung?കായം (Kaayam) Asafoetida അസഫോറ്റിട 

What is Asafoetida Hing Kaayam കായം?

Asafoetida Hing Kaayam Asafoetida æsəˈfɛtɪdə also spelled asafetida hing is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) (Perumkayam) exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula F. foetida and F. assa-foetida), perennial herbs growing 1 to 1.5 m (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall.

Scientific Family of Asafoetida Hing हींग

They are part of the celery family, Umbelliferae. Notably, asafoetida is thought to be in the same genus as silphium, a North African plant now believed to be extinct, and was used as a cheaper substitute for that historically important herb from classical antiquity. The species are native to the deserts of Iran and mountains of Afghanistan, but are mainly cultivated in nearby Pakistan and India.

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Myths and history of Asafoetida orHing or Kaayam കായം हींग

  • As its name suggests, asafoetida has a fetid smell and a nauseating taste; characteristics that also burdened it with the name devil’s dung.
  • In the middle Ages, a small piece of the gum was worn around the neck to ward off diseases such as colds and fevers. Whatever effectiveness it had was probably due to the antisocial properties of the amulet rather than any medicinal virtue.
  • Surprisingly, in Persia asafoetida was used as a condiment and called the “food of the gods”. This herb is the major component in the famous Ayurvedic herbal formula Hingashtak, Sanskrit name is hing.
  • In Persia this herb is so highly esteemed as a condiment, it is mixed with almost all their dishes.
  • French gastronomers rub a little asafoetida on hot plates from which they eat beef steaks. The distinctive flavor of Worcestershire sauce is obtained by the addition of this gum.
  • When used with discretion, it adds character to curries, stews, gravies, etc. Skilful manipulation has made asafoetida a useful ingredient in fine perfumes. It is still regarded a valuable medicinal in Europe, Near and far East. As a condiment, it is recommended only to the hearty and the brave. In magic and mythology, asafoetida is used to gain insight and to banish all negative energy, evil spirits and demons. It is used to invoke male gods, especially those of a phallic nature. One myth claims that asafoetida developed from the semen of a god of fertility when it soaked into the earth.

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