Which spice is also known as "devil's dung"?
Asafoetida exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula (F. foetida and F. assa-foetida), perennial herbs growing 1 to 1.5 m (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall. They are part of the celery family, Umbelliferae. Notably, asafoetida is thought to be in the same genus as silphium, a North African plant now believed to be extinct, and was used as a cheaper substitute for that historically important herb from classical antiquity. The species are native to the deserts of Iran and mountains of Afghanistan, but are mainly cultivated in nearby Pakistan and India.
Asafoetida has a pungent smell, lending it the trivial name of stinking gum, but in cooked dishes it delivers a smooth flavour reminiscent of leeks or other onion relatives. Asafoetida is also known variously as "food of the gods", "devil's dung", jowani badian, hing, hengu, inguva, kayam, and ting.
This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickling. It plays a critical flavoring role in North Indian vegetarian cuisine by acting as an umami enhancer. Used along with turmeric, it is a standard component of lentil curries such as dal, in chickpea curries, as well as in numerous vegetable dishes, especially those based on potato and cauliflower. Asafoetida is particularly widely used in primarily vegetarian Punjabi cuisine where it enhances the flavor of numerous dishes, where it is quickly heated in hot oil before sprinkling on the food.