Ajwain seeds are the seeds obtained from the Ajwain or Ajowan plant. These seeds are used as a spice in cooking. This plant is closely related to Cumin, Dill and Caraway. The seeds are also known as Bishop’s Weed, Ajowan, Caraway and Thymol Seeds. The Ajowan plant mainly grows in various regions of India. The umbels of the plant mature and produce the seeds. Ajwain is also highly regarded for their medicinal value.
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Ajwain Scientific Name
The scientific name for this plant is Trachyspermum ammi.
Ajwain Other Names
It is known by various names in different languages:
- In English: Carom Seeds
- In Hindi: Ajvan
- In Arabic: Kamme Muluki
- In Tamil: Asamtavoman
- In Telugu: Vamu
- In Malayalam: Omum
- In Kannada: Oma
- In Marathi: Onva
- In Gujarati: Yavan
Here is a general description of the Carom Seeds and plants:
Shape: They are oval in shape with a ridged appearance.
Size: The seeds very small in size. They look like smaller versions of Cumin seeds.
Color: Their color varies from yellowish-brown to grayish green.
Taste: Raw seeds have a hot and pungent taste.
Fragrance: The smell of these seeds resembles that of Thyme as Ajwain seeds contain Thymol.
The Trachyspermum ammi is an annual herbal plant growing up to 3 feet in height. Their appearance is similar to that of the Parsley plants. They have narrow green leaves and small delicate flowers. The fruits pods of these plants are often called seeds for their seed-like appearance.
The Carom plants are believed to have originated from Egypt in Middle East. They are widely grown in India, Afghanistan and Iran.
They are widely grown in gardens for their seeds which are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. These plants can be grown easily form the seeds.
Well drained loam soil with a pH between 6.5 and 8.2 is ideal for them. They grow well in cold temperatures ranging from 15 °C to 25 °C. The plants can grow both in direct and partial sunlight. Relative humidity between 65% and 70 % are required for them to grow properly.
The umbels are harvested after they are properly matured. Harvesting is done during the later parts of winter or earlier in spring.
Ajwain Nutritional Facts
Here is the nutritional value for 100 gm of this spice:
|Total Fat||25 gm|
|Total Carbohydrates||43 gm|
|Dietary Fiber||39 g|
Ajwain Health Benefits
Numerous health benefits can be derived from this spice:
- They are an excellent source for various essential oils including thymol, cymene, pinene, terpinene and limonene.
- The seeds are highly beneficial for the digestive system.
- Carom Seeds also has anti-bacterial, germicide, antifungal and anesthetic properties.
- They are rich in various vitamins, minerals, fibers and anti-oxidants.
- These seeds can cure spasmodic pains due to indigestion, flatulence and various infections.
- Ajwain seeds are used in Ayurvedic medicine for treating acidity, flatulence, migraine headache and common cold.
- The seeds are beneficial during pregnancy as they help in digestion, increase appetite and maintain the proper health of the uterus.
- It is an effective home remedy for dyspepsia.
- One or two drops of Ajwain oil can cure various ear infections and earache.
- The oil is also beneficial for treating arthritis pain.
- The seeds are also believed to be able to curb the desire for drinking alcohol.
- They are also a good home remedy for various health problems such as anorexia, abdominal gas, vomiting, travel sickness and nausea.
- Smoking Ajwain can relieve shortness of breath and asthma.
- Gargling with an infusion made from these seeds is beneficial for relieving sore throat.
- Crushed Carom Seeds tied inside a piece of cloth is inhaled to relieve nose congestion.
- Powdered Ajowan seeds are soaked in milk and the milk is filtered and used for feeding small children. It is believed to cure colic in babies.
- They are also beneficial for treating diarrhea.
- Water distilled from the Carom Seeds is known as Ajwain Water and used as a home remedy for various digestive disorders and stomach pain.
This spice is used for numerous culinary purposes. It is counted among the most used spices in various parts of the world.
- It is a main ingredient for various dishes in the Indian cuisine.
- The seeds are used for making various vegetable dishes as well as for flavoring pickles.
- This spice is used for seasoning chicken and fish along with various other spices like Coriander and Cumin.
- These seeds are also used for preparing root vegetables, beans and lentils.
- They are used for making herbal tea, known as Ajwain tea.
- They are widely used for flavoring snacks, biscuits, sauces and soups in India.
- The seeds are pickled along with other spices like turmeric, mustard seeds and fenugreek.
- They are used as a mouth freshener.
Here are the names of some recipes using this spice:
- Spicy Vegetable Fritters
- Ajwain Wala Chicken
- Gujrati Karee with Ajwain Chawal
- Ajwain Paratha
- Ajwain-Aloo Subzi
- Ajwain Rice
- Red Lentils with Paprika and Ajwain
- Ajwain Halwa
No spice can be a perfect substitute for another one. But, one can use dried thyme or oregano instead of Ajwain if the later is absolutely unavailable.
How to Store Ajwain
They should be stored in air-tight containers in a cool, dry place away from humidity and direct sunlight. These seeds do not have a very long shelf life because their essential oils evaporate within a short time, making the seeds lose their flavor.
Oil is extracted from the Ajwain leaves, flowers and seeds following the steam distillation process. This colorless to brownish oil is highly valued for its medicinal properties and is widely used in pharmaceuticals. The oil also has many edible uses. It is used in various cosmetics as well.
Using Ajwain during Pregnancy
It is generally safe to consume Carom Seeds in moderate amounts during pregnancy as it helps in digestion during this time. The seeds also maintain proper health of the unborn child. But, it is advisable to consult an expert in case of any adverse effects. Ajwain water is also believed to accelerate recovery after childbirth.
Ajwain Side Effects
They do not cause any side effects when consumed in moderate amounts. But over consumption may cause some adverse effects in some people. The seeds stimulate gut secretion which can worsen the condition of an existing stomach ulcer. This spice should also be avoided by individuals suffering from diverticulitis conditions, liver diseases and ulcerative colitis. One should consult a doctor if any side effects occur.
Ajwain and Weight Loss
These seeds are not generally used for losing weight. They have appetite stimulating property which is not desirable for dieters. Ajwain can help to lose a little weight by stimulating the bowel movements. But this weight loss is not permanent and is very likely to return within a short time.
Ajwain Price and Availability
This spice is generally available in Indian and Middle Eastern spice stores. The price for 14 once of the seeds ranges from $10 to $ 15.
Ajwain Interesting Facts
Find out some interesting Facts about these seeds:
- The oil extraction of Carom Seeds contains the highest amount of thymol among all spices.
- Their thymol contents made them useful in surgeries as an antiseptic, especially during the earlier parts of the 20th century.
- They are often mistaken for Lovage seeds.
Here are some images of this amazing spice.
- by Deepamala Bhattacharya
- March 29th 2012