What is …?
Asafoetida (also spelt asafetida) is the dried latex exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, 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 where substantial amounts are grown. The common modern name for the plant in Iran and Afghanistan is “badian”, meaning: “that of gas or wind”, due to its use to relieve stomach gas.
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. The odour dissipates upon cooking. Asafoetida is also known variously as “food of the devils”, “devil’s dung”, javoneh-i badian, hing, hengu, inguva, kayam, and ting.
Malaysia & Crunchy Murukku
Malaysia is well known for diversity in its culinary traditions. What people eat provides for significant group boundary markers. Since foods are eaten or avoided to signify ethnic origin, religious orientation, and caste status, as well as to mark the celebration of a religious festival or observance of a rite of passage. Culinary tradition also dictates the context or situation in which specific foods are eaten. The consumption of crispy foods is an example in Southern Indian cuisine, particularly Tamil foods.
Crunchy murukku, It’s considered as convenience foods, which possess a crispy texture, also perceived to be peripheral in a meal. Therefore, are always augmented with more substantive foods. The availability of crispy foods recognised as food items common to the other ethnic groups in multi-ethnic Malaysia also proves this same point; they are always seen to be peripheral.
The trick to getting the murukku crunchy is to finish off the dough with a tablespoon of butter. This custom of making this variety of murukku is still alive in the Brahmin community of Malaysia. Aside from weddings in which the numbers of kai murukku presented will depend on the number requested by the groom’s family (usually it is in odd numbers of 11, 51, or 101), these savoury snacks are also prepared for the festival of Krishna Jeyanthi.
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