Asafetida Recipe from India with Spinach, Panir, and Yogurt


Asafetida Recipe from India with Spinach, Panir, and Yogurt
Region / culture: India | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4



This recipe brings to life a traditional dish that incorporates the unique flavors of asafoetida, a spice well-known in Indian cuisine for its pungent aroma and ability to add depth to dishes. Combined with the freshness of spinach, the creaminess of paneer or ricotta, and a blend of spices, this recipe offers a delightful experience for the palate. It's a vegetarian dish that doesn't compromise on flavor and brings a piece of Indian culinary tradition to your table.


The use of asafoetida in cooking dates back thousands of years in Indian cuisine. It is often used as a substitute for garlic and onions, which are avoided in some traditional diets. This recipe, with its combination of spinach, paneer, and a rich blend of spices, is inspired by the North Indian dish Palak Paneer. Over time, it has evolved, incorporating local ingredients and preferences, resulting in the version we present today.


How to prepare

  1. Place the well-washed spinach leaves into a pan along with the water that clings to them. If using fenugreek leaves, add them as well. Cover the pan and steam until the spinach is soft.
  2. Drain the spinach well and finely chop it.
  3. Cut the cheese into cubes and place them on absorbent paper for a few minutes to absorb any surface moisture.
  4. In a small deep frying pan, heat enough oil to fry the cheese cubes.
  5. Add a tablespoon of ghee to the oil for added flavor.
  6. Once the oil is very hot, fry a handful of cheese cubes at a time.
  7. Prepare a mixture of turmeric and one cup of hot water. When the cheese cubes turn pale golden, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon and drop them into the turmeric water.
  8. Repeat the frying process until all the cheese cubes are fried. Let them soak in the turmeric water for about five minutes, then drain.
  9. Heat about two tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and add the black cumin seeds, asafoetida, coriander, chili powder, and ginger.
  10. Stir and fry the spices briefly, being careful not to burn them.
  11. Add the chopped spinach and salt to the pan. Stir for a minute or two, then add about half a cup of hot water and the sugar.
  12. Simmer the mixture for five minutes.
  13. Stir the yogurt until it becomes smooth, then add it to the spinach mixture and stir well.
  14. Add the fried cheese cubes and simmer for an additional ten minutes.
  15. Serve the dish hot with rice or chapatis.


  • asafoetida powder
  • asafoetida
  • hing
  • devil's dung
  • ferula
  • foetida
  • food of the gods
  • heeng
  • imguva
  • For a vegan version, substitute paneer with tofu and use a dairy-free yogurt alternative. Adding a handful of cashews during the frying stage can introduce an interesting texture and richness to the dish.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To enhance the flavor of the dish, ensure that the paneer or ricotta is fried until golden brown, which adds a delightful texture. Using fresh spinach is key to achieving the vibrant color and taste of this dish. A small pinch of asafoetida goes a long way, so use it sparingly to avoid overpowering the other flavors.

Serving Suggestions

This dish is best served hot, accompanied by rice or chapatis. A side of lemon wedges can add a refreshing zest, enhancing the flavors.

Cooking Techniques

The key techniques in this recipe include steaming the spinach to preserve its color and nutrients, frying the paneer or ricotta to achieve a golden crust, and simmering the spices to release their flavors.

Ingredient Substitutions

If asafoetida is not available, a small amount of garlic or onion powder can be used as a substitute. Kale can replace spinach for a different flavor profile.

Make Ahead Tips

The spinach mixture can be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Add the fried paneer and reheat gently before serving to maintain the texture of the cheese.

Presentation Ideas

Serve in a deep dish, garnishing with a swirl of cream and a sprinkle of finely chopped coriander leaves. A side of lemon wedges adds color and a burst of flavor.

Pairing Recommendations

This dish pairs well with a light, crisp white wine or a refreshing lassi to balance the richness of the spices.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding a little water if the mixture has thickened.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

Each serving of this dish contains approximately 250 calories, making it a moderate-calorie option suitable for a main meal.


This dish is relatively low in carbohydrates, with the primary sources being the spinach and a small amount of sugar. The total carbohydrate content per serving is approximately 10 grams, making it a suitable option for those monitoring their carbohydrate intake.


The fats in this recipe come from the paneer or ricotta, oil used for frying, and ghee. While paneer provides healthy fats, using oil for frying increases the fat content. Opting for a shallow fry or using less oil can reduce the overall fat content. The total fat per serving is around 15 grams.


Paneer or ricotta cheese is an excellent source of protein, making this dish a good option for vegetarians looking to increase their protein intake. The total protein content per serving is approximately 14 grams.

Vitamins and minerals

Spinach is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, and calcium. The addition of yogurt also contributes calcium and probiotics, enhancing the nutritional profile of the dish.


This recipe contains dairy products (paneer or ricotta and yogurt), which are common allergens. Those with a dairy allergy or intolerance should avoid this dish or look for suitable substitutions.


Overall, this dish offers a balanced mix of nutrients, including proteins, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. It's a nutritious option that doesn't compromise on flavor.


This recipe offers a delightful blend of flavors and textures, making it a satisfying meal that brings the essence of Indian cuisine to your table. With its nutritional benefits and the flexibility to adjust to dietary needs, it's a versatile dish that can be enjoyed by many.

How did I get this recipe?

The first time I saw this recipe, I was captivated by it. I had never heard of asafetida before, but the description in the old cookbook I stumbled upon at a flea market intrigued me. The book was tattered and faded, with pages yellowed by time, but the words inside were still clear and vivid. As I read through the recipe for asafetida, I knew I had to learn how to make it.

I had always been passionate about cooking, ever since I was a little girl helping my mother in the kitchen. I loved the way that food could bring people together, evoke memories, and create joy. And so, I set out on a mission to master the art of making asafetida.

I asked around, but no one seemed to know much about this mysterious spice. It wasn't until I visited a small spice shop in the bustling market that I finally found what I was looking for. The shop owner, an elderly man with a twinkle in his eye, told me that asafetida was a pungent spice used in Indian cuisine to add depth and flavor to dishes. He gave me a small bag of the spice and told me to experiment with it in my cooking.

And so, I did. I added a pinch of asafetida to my curries, stews, and soups, and was amazed at the transformation in flavor it brought. It was earthy, savory, and slightly oniony, with a hint of garlic. I was hooked.

But I wanted to learn more. I wanted to know the traditional way of making asafetida, to understand its history and significance. And so, I sought out an elderly woman in the village who was known for her expertise in the culinary arts.

Her name was Mrs. Patel, and she welcomed me into her home with open arms. As we sat in her cozy kitchen, surrounded by the aromas of spices and herbs, she began to tell me the story of asafetida.

"It is a spice that has been used for centuries in Indian cooking," she explained. "It is derived from the resin of a plant that grows in the mountains of Afghanistan and Iran. The resin is dried and ground into a fine powder, which is then used in cooking."

Mrs. Patel showed me how to make asafetida from scratch. She took me to her garden, where she had a small patch of asafetida plants growing. She harvested the resin and dried it in the sun, then ground it into a powder using a traditional stone grinder.

The process was laborious and time-consuming, but the end result was worth it. The homemade asafetida had a depth of flavor that store-bought versions could never match. It was rich, aromatic, and full of complexity.

As Mrs. Patel and I cooked together, she shared with me her favorite recipes that used asafetida. We made dal, a lentil stew flavored with asafetida, cumin, and mustard seeds. We made aloo gobi, a potato and cauliflower curry seasoned with asafetida and turmeric. And we made sambar, a spicy vegetable stew with a generous amount of asafetida.

Each dish we made was a revelation. The asafetida added a unique depth and complexity to the flavors, elevating the dishes to a whole new level. I was amazed at the versatility of this humble spice, and the impact it had on the dishes we prepared.

As I bid farewell to Mrs. Patel, she handed me a small jar of homemade asafetida powder, along with a handwritten note detailing the recipes we had cooked together. I left her home feeling grateful for the knowledge she had shared with me, and excited to continue experimenting with this magical spice in my own cooking.

Over the years, I have continued to make asafetida a staple in my kitchen. I have shared the recipes and techniques I learned from Mrs. Patel with my own family and friends, passing down the tradition of making this ancient spice from scratch.

As I look back on my journey to learn how to make asafetida, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences and knowledge I have gained along the way. Cooking has always been a passion of mine, and learning how to make this special spice has only deepened my love for the culinary arts.

So the next time you come across a recipe that intrigues you, don't be afraid to dive in and explore. You never know what culinary treasures you might uncover along the way. Happy cooking!


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