Indian name and pronounciation:
Ajwain, pronounced as uj-wine
Appearance, taste and smell:
Ajwain seeds are pale khaki colored and look like a smaller version of cumin seeds. They are highly fragrant and smell and taste like thyme (with a stronger flavor).
Ajwain is mostly sold in seed form since it is rarely if ever, used as a powder in Indian cooking. If you ever require the powdered form, it is advisable to buy the seeds and grind them at home as required.
Tadka or Tempering is a cooking method in which cooking oil is heated till very hot and whole spices are added to it and fried. This oil and spice mix is then added as a final touch or garnish to the dish. In Indian cooking, Ajwain is often part of the Tadka in a dish. It is used in small quantities and almost always used cooked. This is because of its strong, dominant flavor. Ajwain is also used in vegetable dishes (for its distinctive taste) and pickles (for its preservative qualities). Ajwain has properties that help it reduce the flatulence causing effect of beans. It also aids in digestion.
Like coriander, cumin and fennel, Ajwain belongs to the Apiaceae family of plants. When distilled, Ajwain produces Thymol. It has been used for ages past as a medicinal ingredient in Ayurveda!
Uses other than cooking:
Some 'Grandmother's Remedies'!
- As a digestive. Chew by itself or with a little sugar to make it more palatable in its raw form.
- As a cure for diarrhoea, dysentry and indigestion. Boil a cup of water with 1 tbsp of Ajwain till the water is reduced to half its original volume. Drink this water.
- To relieve symptoms (like blocked nose, etc) of a cold. Add 1 tbsp of Ajwain to a bowl of boiling water and inhale the steam.
- To ease rheumatic pain. Ajwain oil must be applied on affected part of body.