A large fennel-like plant that grows mainly in Iran and India. The powdered gum resin of the asafetida imparts a very strong onion-garlic flavor and is used in small quantities to Indian dishes. This spice is not known much outside India. The taste is bitter and acrid; however, when fried lightly, it adds wonderful aroma and taste.
The best way to use saffron in Indian cooking is to soak whole threads of it in hot liquid before use. You can either use warm water or hot milk for the purpose, depending on the kind of dish you are preparing. The ideal proportion is one teaspoon of saffron soaked in three teaspoons of liquid, without breaking or crushing them.