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Jul 28, 2009 11:26 AM

Mystery Spice

Someone posted recently about a spice (I think Indian) that's used to replicate the taste of garlic and onion. Does anyone know what that is? thanks

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    1. re: nemo

      That would be it, or the other name for it is Hing.

      1. re: mattrapp

        "teufelsdreck" in German- meaning devil's puke...mmm.

    2. thank you!!
      Is it hard to find? There are a lot of Indian markets in my area, they would have it, wouldn't they?

      1 Reply
      1. re: mollygirl

        No, it's not difficult to find - just about any Indian store would have it. Just look in the spice aisles... The most popular brand comes in a small , bright yellow plastic jar.

      2. Caveat emptor: the "foetid" part of the name refers to "fetid". Like fish sauce, it's one of those things with a smell that some find objectionable, though that doesn't translate to the taste in the cooked dish.

        7 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          I agree - and probably why most recipes you come across say only a "pinch" or that it's "optional".

          1. re: Harters

            I like asafoetida a lot (used sparingly), but I would not consider it a substitute for garlic or onions---anyone else with me here? The flavour is really quite different. I think the idea of using it as a substitute has more to do with Ayurveda than it does with taste.

              1. re: zamorski

                You may be right. We have a local restaurant which bases its cooking on Ayurveda principles and does seem to to use it significantly. I'd never connected the two.

                1. re: zamorski

                  Acttually, from what I heard it also has a lot to do with religous beleifs. Devout Hindus of the Brahmin caste are forbidden to eat onions, garlic or any of the other alliums (Certain Buddist sects have the same prohibition, the "Doctorine of the Five Angry Vegetables") Asfoetida as I understand has a sufficently garlicy taste to sub for garlic without breaking the rules (asfoetida actually comes from a plant in the carrot family)

                  1. re: zamorski

                    yeah, i thought that "flavor' comparison was a little strange when i read it....

                2. re: greygarious

                  You make the analogy to fish sauce, I understand that distinction.

                3. Apparently you DO mean hing/asefoetida but might as well mention that there is also the spice blend "vadouvan" which includes garlic and onion. Apparently it is hard to come by commercially but there are recipes such as this:

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: greygarious

                    I saw some for sale on and it had no explanation and I just looked at it and thought "wtf" not knowing what it was for.