just got my first indian cookbooks (lord krishna's cuisine & others by devi, jaffrey, batra). prepared my first indian dal soup -- followed instructions on adding the 1/4 - 1/2 tsp asafetida powder to the fried ghee/cumin/chili mix, then pouring it into the dal... that's when the most choking terrible fumes happened -- i even have a burn mark on my nostril - i'm still alive and soup was delicious, but man, am i afraid of trying that again!
what is asafetida anyway? is it totally safe? i just got the powder from the spice area at my local health food store.
does it make a huge difference in the dish if i don't use it?