India Loves Pakistan Meat Dishes

"When Delhi's Press Club organised an evening of Pakistani food and music, flying in chefs from Islamabad, the racks of richly-spiced meat on the grill quickly ran out as hundreds of Indian journalists brought their families, equipped with "tiffin" boxes to take away extra supplies"  BBC Report 26 June 2014


The BBC story highlights the fact that the vegetarian India demonstrates its deep love of the exquisite taste of Pakistan's meat dishes whenever the opportunity presents itself.  To further illustrate the phenomenon, let me share with my readers how two famous Indians see meat-loving Pakistan:

Sachin Tendulkar:

 The senior cricketer...said he gorged on Pakistani food and had piled on a few kilos on his debut tour there. "The first tour of Pakistan was a memorable one. I used to have a heavy breakfast which was keema paratha and then have a glass of lassi and then think of dinner. After practice sessions there was no lunch because it was heavy but also at the same time delicious. I wouldn't think of having lunch or snack in the afternoon. I was only 16 and I was growing," Tendulkar recalled. "It was a phenomenal experience, because when I got back to Mumbai and got on the weighing scale I couldn't believe myself. But whenever we have been to Pakistan, the food has been delicious. It is tasty and I have to be careful for putting on weight," he said.

Source: Press Trust of India November 2, 2012

 Hindol Sengupta:

Yes, that's right. The meat. There always, always seems to be meat in every meal, everywhere in Pakistan. Every where you go, everyone you know is eating meat. From India, with its profusion of vegetarian food, it seems like a glimpse of the other world. The bazaars of Lahore are full of meat of every type and form and shape and size and in Karachi, I have eaten some of the tastiest rolls ever. For a Bengali committed to his non-vegetarianism, this is paradise regained. Also, the quality of meat always seems better, fresher, fatter, more succulent, more seductive, and somehow more tantalizingly carnal in Pakistan. I have a curious relationship with meat in Pakistan. It always inevitably makes me ill but I cannot seem to stop eating it. From the halimto the payato the nihari, it is always irresistible and sends shock shivers to the body unaccustomed to such rich food. How the Pakistanis eat such food day after day is an eternal mystery but truly you have not eaten well until you have eaten in Lahore!

Source: The Hindu August 7, 2010

Silicon Valley Indians:

I personally see vivid proof of how much Indians love Pakistani food every time I go to Pakistan restaurants serving chicken tikka, seekh kabab, biryani and nihari in Silicon Valley, California. Among the Pakistani restaurants most frequented by Indians are Shalimar, Pakwan and Shan. These restaurants are also very popular with white Americans and East Asians in addition to other ethnic groups including Afghans, Middle Easterners and South Asians.

Carnivorous Pakistanis: 

A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature magazine reported that Pakistanis are among the most carnivorous people in the world.

The scientists conducting the study  used "trophic levels" to place people in the food chain. The trophic system puts algae which makes its own food at level 1. Rabbits that eat plants are level 2 and foxes that eat herbivores are 3. Cod, which eats other fish, is level four, and top predators, such as polar bears and orcas, are up at 5.5 - the highest on the scale.
Trophic Levels Map Source: Nature Magazine
After studying the eating habits of 176 countries, the authors found that average human being is at 2.21 trophic level. It put Pakistanis at 2.4, the same trophic level as Europeans and Americans. China and India are at 2.1 and 2.2 respectively.

Source: Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences

The countries with the highest trophic levels (most carnivorous people) include Mongolia, Sweden and Finland, which have levels of 2.5, and the whole of Western Europe, USA, Australia, Argentina, Sudan, Mauritania, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan, which all have a level of 2.4.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also published recent report on the subject of meat consumption. It found that meat consumption in developing countries is increasing with rising incomes. USDA projects an average 2.4 percent annual increase in developing countries compared with 0.9 percent in developed countries. Per capita poultry meat consumption in developing countries is projected to rise 2.8 percent per year during 2013-22, much faster than that of pork (2.2 percent) and beef (1.9 percent).

Summary:

Although meat consumption in Pakistan is rising, it still remains very low by world standards. At just 18 Kg per person, it's less than half of the world average of 42 Kg per capita meat consumption reported by the FAO.

While Pakistanis are the most carnivorous people among South Asians, their love of meat is spreading to India with its rising middle class incomes.  Being mostly vegetarian, neighboring Indians consume only 3.2 Kg of meat per capita, less than one-fifth of Pakistan's 18 Kg. Daal (legumes or pulses) are popular in South Asia as a protein source.  Indians consume 11.68 Kg of daal per capita, about twice as much as Pakistan's 6.57 Kg.

India and China with the rising incomes of their billion-plus populations are expected to be the main drivers of the worldwide demand for meat and poultry in the future.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Halal Guys eatery coming to #SanFrancisco Bay Area with first outlet at Union Square. @BayAreaMuslims http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2017/01/11/san-franciscos-first-halal-guys-set-to-open-in-union-square/ The Halal Guys, New York City’s immensely popular street eats brand, will officially open its first brick-and-mortar in San Francisco on Jan. 27.

The new spot, located at 340 O’Farrell St. in the old Naan N Curry, will be the first step in what’s a miniature Bay Area takeover for the East Coast food cart. (They have plans for another spot in Berkeley). Right now, the Halal Guys have 200 locations in development across the U.S., Canada and Southeast Asia.

We’ve been following the news of Halal Guys setting up shop in the Bay Area for the last few months now. This latest update means they’re less than a month from dishing out those renowned chicken gyros or falafel between Taylor and Mason streets for both Union Square and Tenderloin audiences.

Stay tuned for more coverage.

Halal Guys: 340 O’Farrell St., Sunday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Riaz Haq said…
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > BUSINESS
Pakistan becomes third-largest importer of cooking oil

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1302877/high-consumption-pakistan-becomes-third-largest-importer-cooking-oil/

KARACHI: Pakistan has become the third largest importer of cooking oil after China and India, a statement said on Saturday.

“The import of crude and refined cooking oil has increased to 2.6 million tons per annum in Pakistan,” Westbury Group Chief Executive Rasheed Jan Mohammad said at a one-day conference on edible oil.

Balance of payments: Current account deficit widens 92%

Pakistan also imports 2.2 million tons oil seeds every year, he said.

Imports help the country meet around 75% of its domestic needs. The remaining need is met through locally produced banola and mustard oils.

Pakistan imports crude and refined cooking oils (palm and palm olein) mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia and brings in soybean oil from North America and Brazil.

Jan Mohammad said approximately 30% of the import bill is comprised of taxes that traders pay at Pakistan’s sea ports. “The government should rationalise the taxes,” he said.

Dr James Fry, Chairman of LMC International, a research institute of the UK, said fluctuation in production, demand and price of edible oils has a direct link with crude fuel oils in the world. “The production and supply of palm oil would increase in 2017,” he projected.

The statement issued by Pakistan Edible Oil Conference (PEOC) quoted speakers at the conference, saying that Pakistan needs to set up one more import terminal at sea ports to keep the flow of goods smooth.

Apparel sector: Govt urged to withdraw duty on cotton yarn import

They said that Pakistan has so far invested Rs50 billion in import, processing and storage industries of edible oil. They estimated a similar quantum of investment in the years to come. Trade Development Authority of Pakistan Chief Executive SM Muneer said revival of the local economy, increased disposable income, surging demand for cooking oil and rising population have created opportunities for more investment in the edible oil industry in Pakistan.

Zubair Tufail, President, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that per-capita consumption of cooking oil in Pakistan is among the highest in the world.

He said Malaysia and Indonesia remained two big sources of import of the oil into the Pakistan. He asked Malaysia and Indonesia to increase investment in the edible oil industry in Pakistan, as they can take benefit of transit trade to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries via Pakistan.

Outstanding bills: Disruption in oil supplies to power plants feared

Sheikh Amjad Rafique, a speaker at the conference, said Malaysia has imposed taxes on export of oil to Pakistan. “This is a negation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Malaysia,” he said.

He said the Pakistani government needs to engage with Malaysia to remove this anomaly and exploit full benefit of the agreement in place.


Riaz Haq said…
Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2017; 37(3): 329–341.
Published online 2017 Jun 30. doi: 10.5851/kosfa.2017.37.3.329
PMCID: PMC5516059
An Insight of Meat Industry in Pakistan with Special Reference to Halal Meat: A Comprehensive Review
Muhammad Sohaib* and Faraz Jamil1


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5516059/

In Pakistan, per capita use of meat is around 32 kg as compared to developed world, where per capita meat consumption reached to 93 kg as lead by Australia followed by USA. Accordingly, during the last few years, modern slaughter houses and processing facilities are established in Pakistan. These plants are mainly located across Lahore and Karachi, having capacity to produce processed meat products. Currently, Pakistan meat industry is producing variety of meat products including traditional and western style like kabab, kofta, fillings for samosas, mince products, nuggets, burger patties, sausages, and tender pops etc (Noor, 2015). Moreover, given the increased concern of food safety and a shift to modern meat processing methods, the meat product businesses are experiencing further integration (Kristensen et al., 2014). Furthermore, the size of slaughter houses and meat processing companies has also been raising leading intensification and more variety of meat products. The slaughtering and meat processing technologies for poultry and livestock has seen momentous changes. The conventional techniques of “one knife to kill”, one blade to remove hair/skin and one weighing balance to trade meat” has disappeared significantly in large-scale productions, shifting to mechanized slaughter houses, refined cuts according to consumer demand, chilled-chain distribution and regulated selling of meat and meat products (Troy et al., 2016).

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Pakistan per capita meat consumption in 2000 was 11.7 kg that was increased to 13.8 and 14.7 kg in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Additionally, current per capita meat consumption has reached to 32 kg that is further expected to reach 47 kg by 2020 (Table 1). However, urbanization, economic growth, industrialization as well as eating pattern resulting increased per capita meat in the future years that will also generates higher demand for meat and allied products (Chartsbin, 2017). The dietary awareness to population has also played key role in shifting preferences to consume meat and its products. Pakistan having rich traditions and cultural festivities is also adding more demand for meat and meat products during whole year and this demand further rises significantly during festive season. To cope up this growing demand, government as well as meat industry are now concentrating to meet requirements by providing sufficient, healthy and quality produce, both fresh and processed products (GOP, 2016). Furthermore, consumer awareness is pushing meat industry and regulating agencies to keep an eye on quality of meat, safety assurance, animal health and welfare as well as precise traceability (Steinfeld et al., 2006).
Riaz Haq said…
Michelin-starred #restaurant. New Punjab Club was awarded a Michelin Star, just 18 months after it opened its doors in one of Hong Kong’s prime localities. https://images.dawn.com/news/1181591

33-year-old Syed Asim Hussain recently become the youngest restaurateur in the world to hold two Michelin stars.

In December, his ambitious and extremely personal Pakistani restaurant New Punjab Club was awarded a Michelin Star, just 18 months after it opened its doors in one of Hong Kong’s prime localities.

With this, the New Punjab Club is also the first Pakistani restaurant in the world with a Michelin Star. Hussain’s other Michelin honour has been awarded for his French bistro, Belon.

Hussain shared his excitement about the Michelin honour with Images in an exclusive chat over the phone from Hong Kong, "I feel very proud to have received two stars this year. I sort of expected it for the French restaurant, but to have the New Punjab Club recognised so early on is exciting.

Hussain continues, "It’s the first Pakistani restaurant to have a Michelin Star, and I was just telling my team that we have to make sure it stays. Initially, I was convinced someone was pranking us, or we got a call by mistake. I didn’t believe it until the morning of the awards. It was a cool honour for me personally as well. In some ways, it belongs to my father also, for the work he was doing with his restaurants in the ‘80s and ‘90s in Hong Kong. Still talking about it gives me chills; it sure is hard to believe.”

The New Punjab Club and Belon are just two of the 22 restaurants under the Black Sheep Restaurants umbrella that Hussain co-founded with his business partner, Christopher Mark, in 2012.

Hussain was born in Hong Kong, but spent his formative years in Pakistan when his father, businessman and diplomat Syed Pervaiz Hussain, sent him - at age five - and his six-year-old brother off to boarding school at Lahore’s Aitchison College.


“The key element in the story of the New Punjab Club is nostalgia, of which Aitchison is a very big part of. Everyone at the restaurant knows about the school; they’ve seen pictures. My Aitchison stories have now become their Aitchison stories. So, the 13-14 years I spent there, have helped create the New Punjab Club. The essence that comes from Aitchison is very aristocratic and regal. As a kid, I also spent a lot of time at the Punjab Club in Lahore, which is why I affectionately named the restaurant after it.”

Before opening up the restaurant, the duo already had 15 restaurants to their credit under their group. Yet, Hussain says it wasn’t easy convincing Chris to open up a restaurant that serves Pakistani and Indian cuisine. “Pakistani cuisine is white-labelled all over the world as Indian food. I had been talking to [Chris] about this and had a hard time convincing him. So, I took him to Lahore in 2016, and in a week I showed him around Aitchison, Punjab Club, Gowalmandi, Lakshmi Chowk and even Cocoo’s. I was trying to make him look at this the way I did, to show him that we could build a story around this.”

The research and convincing didn’t end at Lahore. “We then went to London. The city has neighbourhoods that have great Pakistani food, which is not white-labelled as Indian food. We saw great modern Indian restaurants like the renowned Gymkhana, Dishoom, and Indian Accent among many others. This was all part of my attempt to convince him that we could do this - we would tell an original, interesting and sellable story.”

The duo was lucky, and got Chef Palash Mitra, of London’s Gymkhana on board for the restaurant. In Hussain’s words, “Mitra is one of the best South Asian chefs in the world.”

Hussain talked about the hurdles they faced during menu development, “We couldn’t get the seekh kabab right; they weren’t the same as they are in Main Market, Lahore. I then realised the issue was that the diameter of the seekh in Lahore is larger than that in India. So, I got some seekhs from Lahore just for this.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Curry’s Journey From #Pakistan to the #Caribbean : Trace curry's journey around the world. Curry originated as early as 2500 BCE in what is modern-day Pakistan. It has since evolved into a truly global food. | CNN Travel


https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/curry-origins-history/index.html


In 2019, ubiquitous Japanese curry house chain CoCo Ichibanya restaurant announced plans to bring its popular "curry rice" to India in 2020.

It might seem counter-intuitive to eat CoCo Ichibanya's relatively mild, sweet Japanese dish in the land of curry.
But the move underscores the sheer variety and complexity of curry -- a word that's long been misunderstood.


Curry is not a single spice, nor is it related to the namesake curry tree (though the leaves are used in many dishes in India).
The catch-all umbrella term refers to a "spiced meat, fish or vegetable stew," either freshly prepared as a powder or spice paste or purchased as a ready-made mixture," writes Colleen Sen in her book "Curry: A Global History."
According to Sen's book, the word curry most likely comes from a misunderstanding of the southern Indian word "kari," which "denoted a spiced dish of sauteed vegetables and meat."

"In the 17th century, the Portuguese [who colonized Goa in western India] took the word to mean a 'spiced stew' over rice and 'kari' eventually became 'caril' or 'caree' in Portuguese, then 'curry' in English," Sen tells CNN Travel.
Curry, which is thought to have originated as early as 2500 BCE in what is modern-day Pakistan, has since evolved into a truly global food, having traveled the world through colonization and immigration, indentured labor, trade and entrepreneurship.
Today, curry is everywhere, from chicken tikka masala in the UK to fiery green curry in Thailand, kare raisu in Japan and curry goat in Jamaica.
"I don't think there's a place in the world that doesn't have some kind of curry," says Sen.
If you're a curry lover, follow your cravings around the world by heading to these 12 destinations:

India, Japan, Jamaica, Pakistan, Thailand, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Caribbean, UK.


Established in 1947 following the end of British colonial rule and the violent partition of India, Pakistan sees strong influences from the Mughals (a Muslim dynasty that ruled India from the early 16th to the mid-18th century) in its cuisine.
This majority Muslim country tends to prepare dishes with beef, chicken or fish as well as lots of spices, such as nutmeg, cumin, turmeric, bay leaves, cardamom and black pepper.

Curry is incredibly popular, with dozens of varieties on offer all over the country, from famous slow-cooked haleem (a stew-like dish of wheat, barley, meat, lentils and spices) to spicy karahi (made with garlic, spices, vinegar, tomatoes and onions with mutton or chicken), bitter gourd curry, saag (a spiced puree of spinach and mustard greens), chickpea curry and daal chawal, a must-try comfort food usually served with rice or roti.

The list doesn't end there: Don't miss a warming aloo gosht (meat and potato curry); hearty, rich mutton korma; lobia daal (black-eyed peas curry); and goat paya, a slow-cooked curry starring incredibly tender trotters.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani resturant Zareen’s in #SiliconValley has thrived in #COVID #lockdown. Zareen Khan has modified her biz model by signing up for more delivery services and selling frozen dishes like beef chapli kebabs and naan. Her customers have stuck with her. https://www.sfchronicle.com/restaurants/article/Why-some-Bay-Area-restaurants-have-actually-15294098.php

She mostly credits customer loyalty for Zareen’s current stability. One customer even asked a couple of weeks ago if she could make a large donation to the restaurant to make sure it survives.

“I will not accept it but just the gesture. ...” Khan said, trailing off. “It was a very emotional moment for me and made me realize we’re not just serving food, we’re serving our community. The way they’ve taken care of me is precious.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan‘s Shan masalas have a cult following in #India despite erratic supply chain. A fan says: "we just love the way it makes cooking glorious, rich, complex kormas and biryanis easy" #food #cuisine #art #culture #cooking #gourmet #SouthAsia https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/why-shan-masalas-have-a-cult-following-in-india-11594362984344.html

Each time the supply of this particular masala blend becomes erratic in Bengaluru, foodie groups on Facebook and WhatsApp start buzzing. “I found two packets of Sindhi Biryani Masala at Aishwarya supermarket in Koramangala." “Mega More on Sarjapur Road has Haleem and Bombay Biryani." “Amazon has some varieties but they are only selling packs of 8, anyone want to split up the order?"

Over the past decade, Shan, a packaged masala brand from Pakistan, has slowly invaded Indian kitchens. Fans of Shan follow developments in India-Pakistan relations with a hawk eye, because often, escalating tensions at the border seem to result in the supply of Pakistani products in India becoming sparse and unpredictable. Last year, a few days after the attack on Indian forces in Pulwama, my husband turned to me and said, “How are we doing on Shan?", a quiver of anxiety in his voice. I had stocked up on the biryani and korma masalas, I assured him, but we were running low on the haleem.

More than a year later, the Shan Haleem masala remains elusive (maybe it’s the covid-19 effect this time) and my annual haleem-making adventure during Ramzan had to be put on hold. Friends in Mumbai and Delhi, however, say Shan is “more or less available" in their cities. This felt patently unfair and I recently discovered why Bengaluru had these periodic shortages. According to an interview with Shan Foods’ founder Sikander Sultan by the Economic Times in 2014, while the company has made inroads into the north-Indian market and was even leading in certain sub-categories within the packaged masala blend segment, they hadn’t expanded to “some geographies like the south."

The company, it seems, is not actively distributing the product in southern Indian cities, and it’s only thanks to some enterprising retailers that a few of the masala varieties are available at all in Bengaluru, and this naturally suffers when the overall supply falls because of border tensions.

If Mr Sultan ever reads this, he should know that he is losing out on a lucrative and highly motivated market. “I have asked my sister to courier them to me from Delhi," says Bengaluru-based food consultant and writer Monika Manchanda. “I’ve been looking for them all over town but they seem to have disappeared from the shelves." I recently reached out to a seller on Amazon that stocks Shan but sells them only in 8 packs of a single variety and asked if they would customise an 8-pack for me. They did, and just a couple of days ago a carton of Shan made its way home (two each of the Bombay Biryani, Korma, Chicken, and Nihari masalas, if you want to know).

But what’s so special about Shan masalas in the first place, ask the uninitiated, sounding skeptical—isn’t it like any other meat masala that you sprinkle on top of your curry for that extra flavour and restaurant-like taste? “Just because it’s Pakistani?" a full-of-nationalistic-fervour neighbour recently asked me when I was extolling Shan’s virtues on a WhatsApp group, possibly suspecting me of deliberately snubbing made-in-India atmanirbhar products.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani ingredient making all the difference in #Indian food. Ranjana Kumar’s mutton & chicken korma curries are the talk of the town in #NewDelhi...a secret ingredient she's been using for over a decade — Shan Foods’ spice mixes — comes from #Pakistan https://www.arabnews.com/node/1722776#.X0CaQt0Ab-A.twitter

The Shan Foods company sells spice mixes in 65 countries including India, a nation with whom Pakistan shares decades of enmity that is dominated by their territorial dispute over Kashmir. They have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.
“I wasn’t aware it’s a Pakistani brand,” Kumar told Arab News, saying her family loved dishes cooked with Shan spices and that she always kept extra stock of the mixes at home. “How does it matter whether it is Pakistani or Indian? The taste is good. Both the neighbors share the same taste and culture and I feel both countries should have access to their products,” she added.
Kumar’s family is a supporter of India’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), under whose rule the already brittle ties with Pakistan have deteriorated further in recent years.
Even so, Kumar said, there was no harm in using Pakistani products.
“Both India and Pakistan share the same history, same past, and the same taste. What’s wrong if we get Pakistani products in our kitchen or house? This should be promoted so that both countries could understand each other better.”
One shop owner said that, although he did not like selling Pakistani brands, customers came asking for Shan spices.
“I don’t like to keep the brand, but customers demand it,” Naresh Sankhla told Arab News at his New Delhi grocery store. “That’s why I keep it. I reluctantly sell this brand from the enemy country, but there is demand for it. I must be selling around 150 packets of Shan (spices) every month.”
Others say that, despite the brand’s popularity, they put India first.
“I have stopped distributing the Shan brand last year after Pakistan’s involvement in the Pulwama tragedy,” New Delhi-based distributor Gaurav Gupta told Arab News, referring to last year’s attack in a town in the Indian part of Kashmir in which 50 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed. New Delhi has blamed Pakistan-based groups for the assault. The Pakistan government denies any official complicity.
Despite his official words, however, quick market research showed that Gupta’s company remains one of the main sellers of Shan’s products.
Rafat Shahab, who runs a catering company, regretted such negative attitudes and said that culinary exchanges needed to be encouraged despite the two countries’ political differences.
“I used the Shan brand a lot whenever I got orders for parties or special occasions,” she told Arab News. “It brings an authentic taste in the food. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have that kind of relationship with Pakistan. Politics should not come in the way of people’s contacts and culinary exchanges.”
Riaz Haq said…
Asafoetida (Heeng): The smelly spice #India loves but never grew. It's imported from #Afghanistan, #Iran. Known to battle flatulence, it is often recommended in recipes that involve gassy foods such as lentils (daal) or beans. #Ayurveda #Gas https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-54617077

Asafoetida, a smelly, acrid spice beloved by Indians, has been used to lace their food for centuries. But it was never cultivated in the region - until now.

Last week, scientists planted about 800 saplings of the plant in Lahaul and Spiti, a cold desert nestled in the Himalayan mountains, exactly two years after India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) imported six varieties of seeds from Iran.

"We are confident it will work," says Dr Ashok Kumar, one of the scientists who painstakingly germinated the seeds in a lab. He says this was necessary because for every 100 seeds, only two sprout. The plant, it turns out, has a vexing habit of going dormant.

"It goes to sleep to adapt to harsh conditions," Dr Kumar says.

Asafoetida, or hing as it's commonly known in India, is a perennial, flowering plant that largely grows in the wild. It thrives in dry soil in temperatures under 35C. So India's tropical plateaus and plains, humid coast and heavy monsoons rule out much of the country for hing farming.

Instead, Indians rely on imports mostly from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - worth more than $100m in 2019 - to get their fix.

This is surprising news for many Indians who would argue that hing is inherently Indian. For many Hindus and Jains, who don't eat onion and garlic because of dietary restrictions, hing's pungency makes it an ideal substitute.

"I use it in all my dals, and I don't cook them with onion or garlic," says Marryam Reshii, food writer and author of The Flavour of Spice. "When you have hing in your food, that tiny whiff of it... it just tastes so, so great!"

Ms Reshii calls herself a "hing lover" - she even put out a detailed thread earlier this week clarifying the origins and uses of her favourite spice.

She says hing's unique smell, a strong, bitter odour, makes it "unlike any other spice".

It even derives its name from that scent - asafoetida in Latin means "fetid gum". The smell is so strong that raw hing, a greyish-white sticky resin collected from the roots, is dried and mixed with flour - wheat in India's north, rice in the south - to turn it into an edible spice. Wholesalers who import hing use tiny amounts of it to make graded variations that sell in the form of blocks, coarse granules or a fine powder.

Although the Persians once called it "the food of the gods", hing is now barely found in cuisines outside of India. In other parts of the world it's either used for medicinal reasons or as an insecticide! But In India, which, by some estimates, accounts for 40% of the world's hing consumption, it's hard to overstate its role in the kitchen.

A dash of it while cumin seeds and red chillies splutter in hot ghee can make an everyday dal sing. Across the country, it seasons delicately spiced soups (shorbas) and fresh relishes (koshambirs) and spikes leafy greens and vegetables tossed in ginger, turmeric and tomatoes. In the north, Kashmiri Hindus stir it in with lamb, red chillies, fennel and dried ginger to make their classic rogan josh and southerners use it to temper their sambars, a variety of steaming lentil stew topped with mustard seeds and curry leaves. It's what sets apart Kolkata's famed hing kachoris (pastries fried to a crisp) and the fluffy idlis (steamed rice cakes) of the temple town of Kanchipuram.


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But he says Kabuli hing is a "hot-selling" item, while Hadda hing, which is "sweeter and smells of oranges" is the least popular.

Riaz Haq said…
Meet Hing: The Secret-Weapon Spice Of Indian Cuisine

by Carolyn Beans

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/06/22/482779599/meet-hing-the-secret-weapon-spice-of-indian-cuisine

The moment my boyfriend — now husband — and I got serious about our future together, my father-in-law got serious about teaching me to cook Indian cuisine. My boyfriend was already skilled in the kitchen. But Dr. Jashwant Sharma wanted extra assurance that the dishes from his native country would always have a place in our home. Plus, as he told me recently, he thought I'd like it.



"We mix four, five, six different spices in a single dish. These create a taste and aroma that you don't get in any other food. People exposed to it usually like it," he said.

Even before our cooking sessions, I knew that cumin and coriander are common ingredients and that turmeric will turn your fingers yellow. Hing, however, was something entirely new to me.

Europeans gave it the decidedly unflattering moniker "devil's dung." Even its more common English name, asafoetida, is derived from the Latin for fetid. Those unaccustomed to it can respond negatively to its strong aroma, a mix of sulfur and onions.


Hing comes from the resin of giant fennel plants that grow wild in Afghanistan and Iran. The resin can be kept pure, but in the States, you mostly find it ground to a powder and mixed with wheat. In The Book of Spice, author John O'Connell describes how Mughals from the Middle East first brought hing to India in the 16th century.

Many Indians use hing to add umami to an array of savory dishes. But for the uninitiated, hing can be a tough sell. Kate O'Donnell, author of The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook, says that she only included hing as an optional spice. "For a Western palette, hing can be shocking," she says

I first encountered hing in one of our early cooking sessions. My father-in-law whipped its well-sealed white plastic bottle out of the cupboard, added a pinch to the pan, and put it back so quickly that I didn't notice the smell. I was most struck by how it bubbled and then dissolved in the hot ghee (clarified butter). And I was a bit skeptical that a pinch of anything could influence a giant pot of lentils liberally seasoned with three other spices.

Later, while experimenting on my own, I got my first full whiff of the spice. To me, the aroma is far from gag-inducing, but it takes a real leap of faith to add it to food. Once you make that leap, magical things happen.

When cooked, hing's pungent odor mellows to a more mild leek- and garlic-like flavor. Some still smell a hint of sulfur, but for many that quality fades entirely. My father-in-law says that hing has a balancing effect on a dish. "It smooths out the aroma of all the other spices and makes them all very pleasant," he says.

Vikram Sunderam, a James Beard Award winner and chef at the Washington, D.C., Indian restaurants Rasika West End and Rasika Penn Quarter, says that he adds hing to lentil or broccoli dishes. But he uses it judiciously.

"Hing is a very interesting spice, but it has to be used in the right quantity," he cautions. "Even a little bit too much overpowers the whole dish, makes it just taste bitter."

Some believe that hing helps with digestion and can ward off flatulence. Perhaps that's why many — including Sunderam — add it to legumes, broccoli and other potentially gas-inducing vegetables.

Some Indians also use it as a substitute for garlic and onions — ingredients discouraged by certain Eastern religions and Ayurvedic medicine.

That substitution makes sense to Gary Takeoka, a food chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Takeoka studied hing's volatiles — the chemical compounds that produce smells. "A major proportion of hing's volatiles are sulfur compounds," he explains. "Some of these are similar to the ones found in onions and garlic."

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