Many good Indian vegetarian recipes include garlic and onions. Is
there a rule
of thumb that can be used in substituting asafetida instead for
quantity would replace what quantity garlic/onion? Is there another
that could successfully be substituted for for onions as a filler
in terms of texture, in recipes calling for a significant amount
(such as a cup) of onions? (Maybe something like eggplant or zucchini?)
Is there a point at which a substitution shouldn't be bothered
with, as it would destroy the integrity of the dish?
Also, I've learned that too much asafetida can be unpleasant and
ruin a dish.
Is there a a good rule of thumb about what quantity should not be
quantity of food? (For reference, I'm using Vandevi brand compound
powder, which seems by far the most prevalent kind available at
groceries around here.)
Thanks so much for any guidance you can give me! It's very discouraging,
putting a lot of time and energy into new dishes, to find them turning
poorly because no help is available with these kinds of substitutions.
frustratingly limiting to have to pass by every recipe that calls
for a bit of
onion or garlic.
J, Raleigh, NC (USA)
Thanks for your letter.
Firstly let me point out that when I rewrote many classic recipes
originally containing garlic and onion, I found that different grades
of asafetida had different potencies. So I just tested with, and
just use, the yellow Vandevi brand that is sold in yellow plastic
containers world wide. Seems like this is the one you use.
In a recipe for 4-6 persons I would substitute 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon
asafetida, according to your taste, no matter how much onions or
garlic went in the original recipe.
Eggplant and zucchini do not do such a good job as 'filler' substitues
for onion. I use finely chopped celery or thin slices of the
inner leaves of iceberg lettuce for recipes where raw
onion is added. Add asafetida with it and a very similar texture
and flavour is produced. In guacamole for instance, the lettuce
plus asafetida plus thin slices of chili tastes remarkably like
onion has been added.
For cooked dishes where a bulk cooked onion feel is required,
I fry very thin slices of fresh fennel bulb with olive oil
and asafetida until it cooks down like onion. It even looks and
browns (eventually) like onion! It adds a slight anise flavour as
well. Called Finocchio or Florence Fennel it is available everywhere
in Australia, and I presume wherever Italians are, it should be
there in the US too.
You ask 'is there a point at which a substitution shouldn't be
bothered with, as it
would destroy the integrity of the dish?' I guess there is, but
my experience is that fresh fennel + asafetida seems to go the distance
for all cooked onion dishes. Of course fresh fennel is not in season
all year round.
You ask if there is a good rule of thumb about what quantity should
exceeded per quantity of food? Well it's up to you, but 1 teaspoon
per large 6-8 serve recipe seems to be the max. For some that is
too strong. I am happy with that much. After then the asafetida
gets too invasive.
Hope this helps.
Previous Answer >>