An extremely pungent spice extracted from a plant of the giant fennel family, asafoetida is frequently used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. In fact, asafoetida's strong, garlicky, dung-like smell is quite off-putting (the Germans call it Teufelsdreck – devil's dung!), but if you can overcome the stink, which disappears in the cooking process, the smallest amount of it transforms vegetable dishes, meat stews and fish.
Buy it in powdered form rather than chunks, which are hard to break down.
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