Asafoetida is the oleo-gum resin obtained by incising the living rhizomes and roots of Ferula, a member of umbelliferous plant of Ferula family The Ferula in Latin means carrier or vehicle, ferula plants are not cultivated or grown they grow themselves as they are arid by air though called carriers or ferula. It grows up to 6 feet high it has large fleshy root covered with bristly fibers. Its stem grows up to 5 to 6 feet's numerous stem leaves with wide sheathing petioles pale greenish yellow flowers, oval fruit it has a milky juice and a strong foetid odour. It was found somewhere around 12th century, there are several species of Ferula yielding Asafoetida. one of them is Tibetian Asafoetida( Narthex Asafoetida ) another one is Scorodosma foetida found in sandy steps of caspian both appears very similar to actual Asafoetida but does not turns pink when oxidized to air and is less pugent then Asafoetida produced in native to the high plains of Iran and Afghanistan.
The bulk of the Asafoetida comes from the official plant, which is indigenous to Afghanistan and grows from two to four thousand feet above sea level. These high plains are arid in winter but are thickly covered in summer with a luxuriant growth of these plants. June to August are the month from when the juice is collected from plants of about four years old. The oldest plants are most productive, anything less than four years is considered virtually worthless., the upper part of the carrot shaped roots of plants which have not flowered is laid bare and the stem is cut off close to the crown. After a few days the exudates is scraped off and a fresh slice of root is cut to gather more resin. Its chief constituent is of about 50 to 62 per cent of resin (means wax-containing plant oils), 25 per cent. of gum and 6 to 17 per cent Volatile oil (volatile oils are all scent unlike general oils that has no scent.) It also contains free ferulic acid, water, and small quantities of various impurities.
Asafetida has been a popular spice in Europe since the Roman times It is an important ingredient in Persia, and is popular with Brahmins in India who refuse to eat garlic. In Indian cuisine, it is normally not combined with garlic and onions and is seen as an alternative or substitute for them, it is nearly always used for vegetarian dishes. Usage differs a little bit for the powdered form and the pure resin. Which are refered in different chapters