Assafetida (or the Giant-fennel smelly) is a perennial herbaceous plant from family umbrella, height reaches it 2 meters, the root system at the same time is very developed. From lacteal juice of roots receive exotic spice which is also called assafetida, and has a pungent unpleasant smell (it many times surpasses a smell of garlic and onions). The homeland of assafetida consider Asia (Iran, Afghanistan, India) where it generally also grows. In the seventies the 20th century this plant was found also in Kazakhstan and Transcaucasia, but, unfortunately, thickets of assafetida were destroyed at fight against wild narcotic plantings though it has no relation to narcotic substances. Assafetida is long since known also for the medicinal properties. In Ancient Rome it was applied as carminative means.
Now assafetida is exclusively Asian spice, in Europe it meets extremely seldom.
Receiving spice of assafetida very long and labor-intensive process, it can last 2-3 months. For its collecting special expeditions as assafetida grows only in mountain areas gather. From one plant receive on average 1000-1100 grams of dense pitch (lacteal juice from roots).
Spice in finished form assafetida represents yellow grains of various size which are connected among themselves lurid (or yellowy-brown) by weight. Everything together looks as lumps of an uncertain form. Sometimes pitch is dried up and pounded in powder (mixing with rice flour) that softens its pungent unpleasant smell a little.
Properties of assafetida are very unusual. Its taste is often characterized as "disgusting" and caustic. The smell reminds a garlic smell. Feature of this aroma is the unusual volatility – this smell impregnates everything on the way: clothes, hands, walls, ware. Taste of assafetida remains in a mouth within several hours, he does not leave water, spirit solutions. If temperature in more than 22C, then a smell of spice of assafetida impregnates with itself everything in several minutes and remains more than a day even when airing the room.
Are able to afford to use assafetida in the form of spice only true gourmets. Considering its above-mentioned properties, there is a question – for what to take out these tortures from use of this spice? The matter is that when frying a small amount of pitch of assafetida in oil its taste and a smell are softened. At the correct use in a combination with other seasonings (ginger, caraway seeds, kukurmy, black mustard) taste of this seasoning becomes noble and thin. Usually in the form of spice assafetida is used at preparation of dishes hard to digest from fat mutton. In India there is a saying that, assafetida will help to digest and nails. With this seasoning prepare various canned food.
Assafetida is used in microscopic doses, is not combined with onions and garlic in any way. This spice increases appetite, improves digestion, tones up an organism and does not leave a smell from a mouth.
Assafetida was used in the medical purposes since ancient times. The famous medieval scientist, the philosopher and the doctor Avicenna mentions treated properties of assafetida in the treatise "Canon of Medical Science" as herpeses and abscesses medicine. In Ancient Rome and Greece soothing properties of assafetida and its help in digestion were known. At commission by Romans of military campaigns they ate lentil soup which gave a lot of energy, but caused abdominal distention. Addition in food of assafetida helped to fight against a meteorism, it was the real rescue for soldiers. Alexander the Great brought this spice to Europe where it was generally used as medical means.
Assafetida was used as medicine and in Russia, in "The full Russian illustrated dictionary herbalist" 1989 is mentioned use of pitch of this plant as the means improving digestion, and also helping at hysteria and pains of a neurotic origin.
Now assafetida is a little known in Europe and Russia where it was replaced by onions and garlic, and is used generally in the countries of Asia.
Assafetida as it was already mentioned, is generally used for improvement of digestion and as carminative means (from a meteorism). Spice helps to digest heavy food and has spasmolytic properties. Also assafetida works as soft laxative and helps to get rid of intestinal parasites. In Ayurveda, traditional system of the Indian Vedic medicine, assafetida is known as bactericidal and anthelmintic means.
Make pharmacological drugs which are used in treatment of nervous diseases of pitch of this plant (hysteria, convulsive attacks). It is known that inhalation of aroma of assafetida helps to prevent a hysterics. Since ancient times assafetida is used at different types of pain (tooth, ear). Helps with treatment of polyarthritis, radiculitis, osteochondrosis, for this purpose it is used outwardly in the form of paste.
Are known and the rejuvenating properties of assafetida, its action it is mentioned also in "Kama Sutra" where it is claimed that this spice rejuvenates those bodies which collapse an old age. Assafetida helps also at gynecologic diseases, especially at painful periods and infertility. In puerperal the period pitch of this plant is used as all-tonic.
Spice is applied also at diseases of respiratory system – at asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough mix is made of assafetida, juice of white onions and honey which should be accepted inside.
Contraindications to use of assafetida are the increased body temperature, pregnancy, skin rash and a hyperoxemia of a stomach.
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