Asafetida stinks. So why is it popular?
Its name stems from the Persian "aza" (mastic resin) and the Latin "foetida," referring to its strong sulfurous odor. In the Indian herbal medicine Ayurveda, asafetida is used to stimulate appetite and digestion. It helps neutralize flatulence caused by beans and other legumes. Hence, the spice stinks. Not you.
Read more here along with a really fun interview and recipe from Ammini Ramachandran.