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Robb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:49 PM
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Iraq, random spice tidbits
I'm using asafoetida instead of garlic in a tikka masala, and it reminded me of a fellow that came into the restaurant I used to work in.

He said that the single, single possible upside to the invasion was the possibility that Iraqi saffron might again become available in the west. He told me that spice freaks speak in hushed tones of Iraqi saffron, the way cigar lovers speak of Cuban hand-rolled cigars.

Anyone ever had, uh, Iraqi saffron? :shrug:
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SOteric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 07:55 PM
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1. Fookin' paradise on a plate.
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Maple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:02 PM
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2. The best pistachio nuts
come from that part of the world.
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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:16 PM
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3. Actually, I'm Interested in Your Asafoetida Reference
I thought it was an ancient spice that wasn't really used any more. But no. Here's a few sentences from

Asafoetida a gum that is from the sap of the roots and stem of the ferula species, a giant fennel that exudes a vile odour. ...It was used as a spice in ancient Rome, and although not native to India, it has been used in Indian medicine and cookery for ages. It was believed that asafoetida enhanced singers voices. In the days of the Mughal aristocracy, the court singers if Agra and Delhi would eat a spoonful of asafoetida with butter and practice on the banks of the river Yamuna.

Asafoetida is a hard resinous gum, grayish-white when fresh, darkening with age to yellow, red and eventually brown. It is sold in blocks or pieces as a gum and more frequently as a fine yellow powder, sometimes crystalline or granulated.

Use in minute quantities, adding directly to cooking liquid, frying in oil, or steeping in water. Asafoetida is used mostly in Indian vegetarian cooking, in which the strong onion-garlic flavour enhances many dishes, especially those of Brahmin and Jain castes where onions and garlic are prohibited. It is used mostly in south and west India, though it does not grow there. It is used in many lentil dishes (often to prevent flatulence), vegetarian soups and pickles. It is also suited to many fish dishes and some pappadums are seasoned with asafoetida.

So do tell, how do you use asafoetida and why is it better than onions or garlic? Especially if it stinks?
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Robb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:26 PM
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4. Mostly
Mostly I used it tonght because I ran out of garlic, and was too lazy to bike down to the store. :)

I wouldn't say it's better than garlic or onions, it's just different. It's a, how would I put it -- a more deeply Indian flavor. Or, to put it another way, when I've used it in the past, my Indian dishes taste more like the real deal.

It is, however, difficult to come by in this vast Colorado hinterland I live in. I may just like it because it was such a pain to get!
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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 08:49 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Maybe I'll Pick Some Up
I've started to experiment with Indian spice mixtures with pleasant results.

My girlfriend grew up in China, and we cook together a lot. Lots of vegetables of various kinds, lots of improvising. Very few actual recipes. She doesn't use much seasoning, but encourages me to when I do the stir-frying. I use anything that's around.

Indian spice mixtures have such wonderful flavors -- I usually use only a fraction of the recommended amount. (And they're cheap as hell.) Even better on meats than on vegetables.

I've seen a couple of your other culinary references -- we should think of a good culiinary topic for the Meeting Room or the Lounge when there are more people around. The okra thread certainly stirred some passions.
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