At a Glance
Ajwain (pronounced aj’o-wen) is a member of the Umbelliferae family and has the latin name Trachyspermum ammi. Ajwain is a pungent spice used in indian and middle eastern cooking. It is also known as ajowan caraway, ooman, bishop’s weed, and carom. It was originally from the Eastern Mediterranean, but is now mostly cultivated along river banks in Central Asia, India, and much of Egypt.
The small fruits are pale brown and have an oval shape, resembling caraway and cumin. It has a bitter and pungent
taste, with a flavor similar to anise and oregano. They smell almost exactly like thyme because it also contains thymol, but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as slightly bitter and pungent. Even a small number of fruits tends to dominate the flavor of a dish.
Cooking with Ajwain
Ajwain has a particular affinity to starchy foods like savory pastries and breads. It is also good with green beans and root vegetables. The seeds add balance to sweet soups and stews, and are said to lessen the gaseous effects of beans. Ajwain goes well with chicken, fish, legumes, and in curries, and may be combined with turmeric, paprika, cumin, fennel and coriander.
It is usually ground in mortar or blender, or crushed by rubbing between hands or fingertips before using. When used whole, for parathas (flatbread) or other breads, lightly bruise the seeds first, to release oils and increase flavor. The seeds can be stored indefinitely if kept from light in airtight containers.
Ajwain and good health
The high thymol content of Ajwain is considered to make it a terrific aid to digestion. Its also used to help relive ear and tooth pain. Ajwain has a special place in Ayurvedic medicine. Its recommended both as a spice and as an herbal tea that is good for coughs and colds as well as weight loss.
Two tablespoons of ajwain per cup of water brought to a boil makes a good strong tea that can be had hot or let to cool.
Our Ajwain grower
Our Ajwain comes from a family farm near Dudhauki, Bihar state, India. Dudhauli is in the north east foothills of the Himalayas The area has rich soil and elevation that is cooler and moister than other areas where much of India’s Ajwain is grown. The more temperate climate yields the most flavorful and complex Ajwain we’ve ever tasted.