Carom Plant Info: Learn About The Indian Herb Ajwain
Ajwain (Carrum carvi) is a perennial herb native to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It grows up to 10 feet tall with small white flowers that are followed by long green berries. Ajwain is used for its aromatic oil which is widely used in perfumes, cosmetics and medicines. Ajwain is not only edible but also medicinal.
It is commonly known as “Indian mint” because it looks similar to the mint family of plants.
The leaves are used to make a tea, called jasmine or jaggery, which is drunk throughout Asia and Africa. The leaves are also eaten fresh in some parts of India where they have been grown since ancient times. They are also dried and ground into a powder that is used in toothpaste.
In India, Ajwain is mostly cultivated for its leaves, although it can be found growing wild along riversides and streams. When the leaves are picked, they smell like sweet almonds or honeydew melon. The berries taste very bitter when crushed but once chewed they become quite palatable.
Ajwain is considered to be antiseptic, anti-parasitic and carminative. It helps with flatulence and colic. Carvone, a volatile oil found in the leaves, has antifungal and antibacterial properties. The essential oil is helpful with colds, bronchitis, stomachache, coughs, sore throat, and diarrhea.
It has also been found to have a positive effect on the liver and gallbladder as well as helpful in treating hookworms.
Ajwain can be used in cooking many dishes including casseroles, egg dishes, fish, potatoes, soups, lentils and vegetable dishes. The leaves can be used fresh or dried. They are especially good with potatoes and lentils.
Due to ajwain’s carminative properties, it is useful in treating the symptoms of flatulence. It also helps to ease the pain of arthritis and rheumatism. It has been used for centuries as a digestive aid. In Persian medicine, it is considered beneficial for the heart.
The essential oil found in the leaves is very strong and should be used with care because it can cause allergic reactions.
Ajwain should not be used by women who are pregnant because it can cause uterine contractions. It should also be used with caution by people who have high blood pressure.
Ajwain is not commonly found in the United States but can be purchased at Indian grocery stores or through various online sources. It can be grown in the garden or indoors as a houseplant. If you would like to start growing your own ajwain, it prefers sandy soil and full sun but can also be grown in partial shade.
Ajwain comes from the same family as thyme and can be used in a similar fashion. You can dry your own leaves by hanging them upside down in a dark place until completely dry. Once dried, crush them before storing in an airtight container out of the sunlight.
Cooking with ajwain
Toast the whole seeds lightly to enhance their flavors before grinding.
Add ground seeds to baked goods, curries, casseroles, cheese dishes, eggs, fish, lentils, potatoes, soups and stews.
Add a few crushed leaves to bread and cracker doughs.
Add finely chopped leaves to your favorite dips and spreads.
When using fresh ajwain in your cooking, add a little at a time since it can sometimes be overpowering.
Dried leaves will keep up to a year when stored in an airtight container away from light.
Ground seeds without added oil will keep up to four months when stored in an airtight container away from heat and light.
A few crushed or chopped leaves placed in a jar or bottle will flavor oils and vinegars. These flavorings will keep up to six months when stored in a cool, dark place.
Ajwain is considered safe in culinary amounts.
The essential oil can cause dermatitis in some people so use it with care and keep it away from your skin and especially your eyes.
The leaves are more toxic than the seeds so use caution when using a lot. Due to the toxicity, it should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
This page was written by Aubrey Callen.
Ajwain – Botanical Name: Carum copticum
Ajwain is an aromatic herb native to the Middle East and India.
It is similar in taste to thyme, although more similar to aniseed and acts as a carminative. A carminative is a substance that prevents the buildup of gas in the stomach or intestines and helps to relieve flatulence.
Ajwain is popular in Northern African, Iranian, Turkish, and Indian cuisines. It is commonly used in breads and rice dishes and gives a great flavor to any lentil dish.
The whole plant is harvested when the flower first begins to open. The seeds are pale brown ovals and have a nutty taste when ground.
Although considered safe in culinary amounts, it can cause dermatitis in some people. Allergic reactions are also possible. In high doses it can have a negative effect on the kidneys and liver. Pregnant women should avoid Ajwain.
Ajwain is considered toxic to cats and ingestion can cause liver failure and death.
Heating the plant or seeds releases an oil that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin.
The seeds are small and should be chewed thoroughly before swallowing. This is particularly important for children and older people.
Caraway, Bishop’s Weed, Jant (Sanskrit), Ajmod, Ajmud, Ajma, Sughand, Shekyar, Shegun, Ajamoda (Hindi), Oungre, Guiengreen, Karchoh (Persian), Jinten Kli(Arabic), Yinten Klé (Amharic), Jun Tek(Japanese).
Did you know?
Ajwain is also known as Bishop’s Weed because it was commonly thought to be used by the church leaders in Europe when they were forbidden to use pepper.
It is also known as Caraway, but it isn’t related to the Caraway that is often used in baking.
Ajwain is an important ingredient in Garam Masala.
Ajwain is native to the Middle East, but has become naturalized in India and other countries throughout Asia, Northern Africa, Spain, and even the United States of America.
The ancient Egyptians used Ajwain in their cooking and it has been found in ancient Egyptian graves, suggesting it was used in their funeral rituals.
The Greeks and the Romans both used the herb, but they did not use it nearly as much as the Indians did. It became an important part of Indian cooking and is often seen in various dishes to this day.
Ajwain made its way through trade routes to Persia where it was called ‘Jintan’. In England it was called ‘Bishop’s Weed’ and was thought to be used by the church leaders when the Catholic Church forbade the use of Pepper.
It is still used in Indian cooking to this day, particularly in Northern Indian cuisine. It is a popular addition to lentils and rice dishes.
The herb is very common in Middle Eastern cooking, especially in breads. It is thought to be an effective Digestive tract stimulant and carminative. Carminatives are used to prevent the formation of gas in the stomach and intestines. They also help to relieve pain caused by it.
Ajwain is often used in combination with other herbs to make various types of tea.
It is not very well known in the Western World, but it is gaining in popularity. It can easily be found in most grocery stores or specialty shops.
In the Caribbean, it is used to flavor certain dishes, but it is not as common as other herbs such as thyme and oregano.
In Louisiana, it is used to flavor Crayfish.
In Europe, it is sometimes used in the same way as black pepper or mixed with salt. It is quite popular in Scandinavian cooking. In England, it is most commonly used in pickled recipes such as beans or eggs.
In Indian cooking, it is used both fresh and dry and often contains other similar spices such as Cumin, Coriander, and Black Pepper. It is often used to flavor Lentils and other legumes.
Sources & references used in this article:
Development of durable antibacterial agent from ban-ajwain seed (Thymus serpyllum) for cotton fabric by MP Sathianarayanan, BM Chaudhari, NV Bhat – 2011 – nopr.niscair.res.in
Study on Relationship Among Edaphic Factors for Development of Root Rot in Ajwain Under Pot Conditions by BL Fagodia, BL Mali, RK Fagodiya – National Academy Science Letters, 2020 – Springer
Yield and economic feasibility of ajwain (Trachyspermum ammi L.) under varying irrigation and nutrient levels by SM Patel, AU Amin – International J. Seed Spices, 2017 – isss.ind.in
Review of Machine Learning Herbal Plant Recognition System by PP Kaur, S Singh, M Pathak – Available at SSRN 3565850, 2020 – papers.ssrn.com
Validation of environmental disinfection efficiency of traditional Ayurvedic fumigation practices by SB Bhatwalkar, P Shukla, RK Srivastava… – Journal of Ayurveda and …, 2019 – Elsevier