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What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

If you’re familiar with Indian cuisine, you’ve probably heard of Asafoetida. This is a spice that you can either buy ready-blended at the store or make yourself. Unfortunately, Asafoetida isn’t always the easiest spice to get hold of.

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

So, what can you do when you’re working with a recipe that requires Asafoetida, but you can’t find any, or don’t have all the ingredients to make it?

Luckily, there are plenty of great substitutes for Asafoetida that can help your cooking to taste just as good. This is your complete guide to the best Asafoetida substitute.

About Asafoetida

In case you’re not familiar with Asafoetida, it’s also referred to as hing, and it’s a spice made from the sap of one of the many types of celery plants. Once extracted, the sap is blended with rice flour and gum Arabic, at which point it takes on a paste-like form.

The paste is then dried in the sun before finally being ground into powder. Asafoetida is easily identified by its pungency, and that’s why it’s such a great spice for making curries.

However, as we’ll go into in more detail shortly, it’s also used medicinally for the treatment of digestive symptoms.

Asafoetida Flavor

Asafoetida’s flavor is often compared to onion or garlic because it’s so strong and pungent. Its flavor is quite unique, however, which is why putting thought into your substitution is so important.  Because Asafoetida is so strong, many people find it overpowering.

That’s why it’s generally recommended to use the spice in very small quantities – although since some of the substitutions we’re going to be discussing today are not as strong, you may have to use more of these.

How Is Asafoetida Used?

The main use for Asafoetida is in cooking. Despite its pungent aroma, the smell dissipates somewhat during the cooking process and becomes more subtle. Therefore, it’s often used to add strong flavors to curries and stews. Asafoetida is also sometimes used to make tea.

Tea made from Asafoetida is often medicinal, being used to settle digestive upset. Speaking of using Asafoetida medicinally, the spice has long been a folk remedy with a wide variety of uses.

Although the main medicinal use for Asafoetida is the treatment of digestive ailments, it’s also been used to heal symptoms of respiratory conditions.

The Top Substitutes For Asafoetida

1. Homemade Asafoetida

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

If you can’t find ready-made Asafoetida at the store, but still want to use it in your recipe, don’t worry! You can make your own Asafoetida at home. It’s not that complicated, and the main ingredients you need are garlic powder and onion powder.

Apart from ¼ cup of onion powder and ¼ cup of garlic powder, the only other ingredient is ½ a teaspoon of salt. Combine the powder first before adding the salt and mix them all together.

Then, transfer the mix into a container. This container should be airtight and stored somewhere cool and dry.

2. Onion Powder

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Onion powder is one of the easiest and most well-known substitutes for Asafoetida, and it’s also one of the most similar in terms of flavor.

Because Asafoetida has a pungent flavor and aroma, onion powder is one of the best ingredients you can use to mimic the flavor and aroma of the spice.

Not only that, but onion powder can also have medicinal benefits, including treating symptoms of indigestion and sickness such as bloating.

You can use roughly the same amount of onion powder as Asafoetida, so there’s no need to go into complicated ratios when using one instead of the other.

3. Onion Paste

Onion pasta can also work as a great alternative to onion powder if your goal is to replace Asafoetida in a recipe while maintaining a similar flavor and aroma. Just like onion powder, you can replace Asafoetida with onion paste at a 1:1 ratio.

However, onion paste is often even more potent than the powder, so it’s sensible to add slightly less to start with and taste your food before deciding whether to add more.

4. Garlic Powder

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Garlic is one of the most potent and pungent ingredients used in cooking, so if you’re looking for a powerful Asafoetida substitute, garlic powder can be your best friend. Garlic flakes work in much the same way.

Bear in mind that even though garlic powder packs a punch, it’s not quite as pungent as Asafoetida. So, for every quarter teaspoon of Asafoetida your recipe calls for, use a teaspoon of garlic powder.

We recommend using garlic powder as an Asafoetida substitute in recipes that involve cooking for quite a long time. This applies to curries, chilies, and stews. The reason for this is that if you don’t cook garlic powder for long enough, it can taste very sharp.

While Asafoetida is sometimes added to chutneys and other raw dishes, we don’t recommend substituting with garlic powder in these recipes.

5. Chives

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Chives are similar to onions because they are part of the same family. Because of this, it makes sense to use chives as a substitute for Asafoetida in the same way as you might use onion powder.

Chives are not as strong as either Asafoetida or onions, so you’ll need to use more of this ingredient when substituting. Look at your recipe to check how much Asafoetida is required, and add twice the quantity of chives.

You can use both fresh or frozen chives, but make sure you allow frozen chives to thaw before adding them to your cooking.

It’s also possible to use both chopped or whole chives as Asafoetida substitutes. Adding whole chives to your recipe will still infuse the dish with the flavor.

6. Garlic Scapes

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Not to be confused with garlic chives, garlic scapes can be used as substitutes for Asafoetida. Admittedly, the flavor is quite different, but the savory, mildly pungent flavor works as a more subtle substitute.

Since garlic scapes belong to the onion flavor, the flavor profile is quite similar, but garlic scapes are milder. Start by adding half the amount of garlic scapes than the recipe recommends for Asafoetida.

This is not because garlic scapes are particularly strong, but because the flavor is not exactly the same, and you want to avoid overwhelming other flavors with it. You can always add more later.

7. Wild Ramps

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

You might also hear wild ramps referred to as spring onions. They have a strong onion flavor due to being part of the Allium family, and because of this, they can be used as a substitute for Asafoetida as well as for garlic and onion.

Because wild ramps can be eaten raw, it’s possible to use them instead of Asafoetida in both cooked and raw recipes, ranging from curry to chutney.

We find that replacing Asafoetida with wild ramps works best when you use a ramp for each quarter teaspoon of the spice called for by the recipe.

8. Fennel Seeds

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Since Asafoetida is closely related to fennel, you can easily use fennel seeds as a substitute for the spice. Both belong to the Apiaceae family, with the main difference being that fennel’s flavor is on the sweeter side.

Because fennel has a potent, sweet flavor, you don’t want to use too many seeds when replacing Asafoetida in a recipe. This is because using too much of this ingredient can lead to your recipe tasting overly sweet.

So, start by adding roughly half the quantity of fennel, and add more if you think it’s necessary. If you want to use a powdered ingredient to replace Asafoetida, you can simply grind the seeds into a powder.

This will ensure that the flavor is evenly distributed throughout your dish, and it will be easier because the powder should dissolve, whereas seeds will remain in the food after cooking.

9. Celery Seeds

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Just like fennel seeds, celery seeds are a worthy substitute for Asafoetida. This may come as a surprise because celery is not known for having a particularly potent flavor or aroma, but the seeds are much more pungent, which means they’re a good substitute for the popular spice.

Many people aren’t familiar with what celery seeds taste like, and the flavor can be a bit of a surprise. For this reason, we recommend adding a small number of celery seeds to your recipe, to begin with. Then, if you think more flavor is needed, you can add more.

Only add the same quantity of celery seeds as Asafoetida called for by the recipe to start with. This should provide plenty of flavor.

10. Shallots

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Shallots are yet another member of the onion family, so if you’re looking for a reliable Asafoetida substitute, these should be high on your list. While their flavor is not as strong as that of onions or garlic, they’re a good choice if you’re preparing a raw recipe like salad or a chutney.

If you’re cooking over heat, you should bear in mind that shallots will become sweeter when exposed to high temperatures. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should consider what other flavors are at play in your recipe and whether added sweetness will work.

Because shallots are not nearly as potent as Asafoetida, you will need to increase the quantity when making your substitution.

If the sweetness starts to overpower the other flavors in your dish, you may also need to adjust the quantities of the other ingredients. That’s why it’s important to taste throughout the cooking process.

11. Scallions

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Scallions are commonly called green onions. As you might expect from the name, these are a type of onion, and they’re mostly used to add flavor to garnishes and other raw dishes. However, they can also be added to cooked dishes and make a good replacement for Asafoetida.

Scallions are significantly milder than Asafoetida, so don’t go into this substitution expecting the same potency of flavor. If your recipe is supposed to taste and smell very pungent, scallions may not be the best choice of substitute for you.

However, if you just want to add a subtle hint of flavor, especially if you think Asafoetida would be too overpowering, we recommend using scallions.

It’s worth noting that there are a lot of benefits to cooking with scallions, so if you’re worried about sacrificing the benefits of Asafoetida by replacing it in recipes, scallions are a good substitute.

They are rich in several important vitamins and minerals, including potassium and vitamins C and A. They are also both antifungal and antibacterial.

12. Leeks

What’s The Best Asafoetida Substitute?

Finally, if you’re in a pinch, you can replace Asafoetida with leeks. This will not be a great substitute if you’re looking for a lot of flavor, but since leeks belong to the Allium family, you can try substituting some of the flavor with this ingredient.

Obviously, leeks are nowhere near as strong as Asafoetida. When adding leek to your recipe to replace Asafoetida, you will probably need to use roughly 3 times the quantity recommended by the recipe.

The taste of raw leek can sometimes be a little overwhelming, so this substitution definitely works best when added to cooked dishes.

Final Thoughts

There are many potential substitutes for Asafoetida, which is excellent if you can’t find any at your local store.

You can make an easy Asafoetida substitute at home using onion and garlic powder with salt. Alternatively, you can use onion or garlic powder (or paste) by themselves as close substitutes.

Other Asafoetida substitutes include chives, wild ramps, shallots, scallions, fennel or celery seeds, garlic scapes, and leeks. Before choosing your substitute, consider the other flavors in your recipe and your own palate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Asafoetida Substitute Is The Best?

The best Asafoetida substitute depends on your preferences and what you’re aiming for in terms of your cooking. If you’re looking for a similarly potent and pungent ingredient, onion or garlic will work best. Chives also work great to add more intense flavor.

What Is The Difference Between Asafoetida And MSG?

Asafoetida is often confused with other seasonings like MSG. However, MSG and Asafoetida are actually completely different. Whereas Asafoetida is a plant-based spice, MSG is a type of salt, and it’s mostly found in Chinese cuisine.

How Is Asafoetida Pronounced?

Asafoetida can be confusing to look at written down. The correct pronunciation is ‘ah-suh-fuh-ti-da’. This word has roots in the Persian language.

The first two syllables mean ‘resin’ in Persian, and the second part of the root is derived from Latin, where the word ‘foetidus’ means foul-smelling.

Why Does Asafoetida Smell Bad?

Before being cooked, Asafoetida is often described as having a smell similar to both onion and rotten eggs. When cooked, the smell becomes less pungent.

The reason raw Asafoetida smells less than pleasant is that there’s a sulfur compound in it, which releases an intense odor.

Can You Replace Asafoetida With Nutritional Yeast?

It is possible to use nutritional yeast as a substitute for Asafoetida.

However, bear in mind that nutritional yeast is more often used as a plant-based substitute for cheese because it has a distinctly cheesy flavor and odor, so only use it as an Asafoetida substitute if you’re prepared for that.

What Does Asafoetida Do To Your Body?

The medicinal uses of Asafoetida are many and varied. While one of the most popular uses of the spice is to relieve digestive symptoms like indigestion, bloating, and flatulence, there are many other ways you can use Asafoetida to improve your health.

For instance, Asafoetida has historically been used to treat bronchitis, asthma, chronic coughs, and other respiratory symptoms. It’s also been known to work as a remedy for intestinal parasites, epilepsy, and ulcers.

Is Asafoetida A Laxative?

Asafoetida is a kind of laxative because it can speed up and assist digestion, encouraging bowel movements. However, it is a mild laxative, so you shouldn’t experience any alarming symptoms after using it in your cooking.

Does Asafoetida Help With Weight Loss?

Asafoetida will not help you to lose fat, but you might notice a decrease in your scale weight after you start cooking with Asafoetida. This is because Asafoetida promotes healthy digestion, which may decrease bloating and water retention.

Is Asafoetida Good For Your Skin? 

Because Asafoetida has antibacterial properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties, it may be helpful for those dealing with acne, pimples, and other skin conditions such as rashes.

Additionally, Asafoetida has been found to promote blood flow to facial tissues, which may help your skin to appear more radiant.

Is Asafoetida An Appetite Stimulant?

Although Asafoetida is not strictly an appetite stimulant, it can have a similar effect due to its impact on the liver and its ability to soothe indigestion.

If your liver is not secreting enough bile salts, or you are having digestive issues, you may find yourself struggling to work up an appetite. Asafoetida promotes bile salt secretion from the liver and improves digestion, which may help your appetite.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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