The species are distributed from the
Mediterranean region to Central Asia. In India
it is grown in Kashmir and in some parts of
Punjab. The major supply of asafoetida to
India is from Afghanistan and Iran.
There are two main varieties
of asafoetida ie. Hing Kabuli Sufaid (Milky
white asafoetida) and Hing Lal (Red asafoetida).
Asafoetida is acrid and bitter in taste
and emits a strong disagreeable pungent
odour due to the presence of sulphur compounds
The white or pale variety
is water soluble, whereas the dark or black
variety is oil soluble.
Since pure asafoetida
is not preferred due to its strong flavour,
it is mixed with starch and gum and sold
as compounded asafoetida mostly in bricket
form. It is also available in free flowing
(Powder form) or in tablet forms.
Asafoetida is extensively used for
flavouring curries, sauces, and pickles.
It is also used in medicines because of
its antibiotic properties.