Carom Seeds (Ajwain) : Finding the Fruit
Very sharp yet with only a somewhat-bitter flavour, Carom seeds are not seeds. Shocking, I know; but they are actually fruits which we, in our ignorance, have accepted as seed.
Like cumin, Bishop’s weed (another name for Ajwain) is harvested by rooting out the entire plant, drying them in bundles and then threshing it to separate the fruit.
By fragrance, a lot of people confuse the spice with thyme because both have the same aromatic oil – thymol. You can say ajwain is the less subtle cousin of thyme as it has a stronger scent.
Why Use Carom Seeds: The Benefits of the Spice
When you want to boost digestibility, you add turmeric to a recipe. Ayurveda taught us this and western medicine hammered in the fact. What’s astounding is that carom seeds rival Haldi. The right dose of Ajwain is a strong cleanser that really gets the appetite going.
Sprinkle to any dish you feel is too rich to digest and carom seeds will do their wonders by warming up cold digestion.
How do they do so? By increasing Pitta, the concept in Ayruveda that represents metabolism. In plainer terms, the spice enhances digestion.
Bishop’s Weed: A Quick How-To
For us Indians, carom seeds are a staple in flavouring virtually every lentil dish we make. These little egg-shaped seeds pack a punch when fried with oil or ghee (clarified butter) and diffuse a yummy flavour throughout the dish.
A tiny amount goes a long way with Ajwain. A tad much and they dominate every other spice in the recipe. So, use the herb with a light hand. Where else can you sprinkle carom seeds besides the ubiquitous chaunk ( tempering)?
- Remember those biscuits we all grew up eating ? Give those crispy and savoury treats bursting with spicy Ajwain a try at home with this wholegrain cracker recipe.
- If no meal is complete without a condiment for you, then this Aam ki Launji with a hint of Ajwain is what you need.
- For something mildly spicy, toss beetroot, apple and a pinch of carom seeds together for a sweet yet sour chutney
- There are some days when we pine for home-cooked stuff. For those days, I relay on Namak-paray (crackers) heavily flavoured with carom seeds.
Tasha’s Inside Tip
It’s uncomfortable. It’s embarrassing. Yet, each one of us bloat at some point. How do you get rid of it? Right before you go to sleep, chew a teaspoon of carom seeds. If the taste is not to your sensitivity, then boil them in a cup of water. Sip the strained water during the day. Trust me, Ajwain is magical at curing bloating.
I hope you are enjoying my #spiceseries blogs.
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Hi Tasha, I am on a mission to clarify these spices, and find what Im looking for, please help.
Is Ajwain/carom same as cake seed? My memory of ajwain is short rounder looking version of what a cummin seed looks like.
Shah zeera on other hand is and tastes like a mild form of cummin seed also referred to and looks like caraway seeds.
Is caraway same as ajwain/carom or something else?
I bought aniseed seeds thinking it was ajwain as it looked like ajwain. But the tatse was clearly of aniseed.
I remember in my childhood in India eating a yellow sponge cake with seeds in it that I recall is what ajwain is.
But searching on the internet for ajwain/carom seeds results in the words caraway, carom, bishop seeds in the same line.
So I'm still not clear. I dont want to buy packets of different spices only to be disappointed when all I want is Ajwain or cake seeds as they are also described as.
Your help to clarify these is greatly appreciated.
Natasha Minocha says
Hello Gloria, my apologies for the rather late response.
Ajwain is carom/bishop's seeds.
While caraway seeds are kala jeera. Both are completely different.
So I think, you should buy ajwain seeds.Hope this helps. 🙂
Ramya Dev says
This was really informative, thanks!
Natasha Minocha says
Thank you so much, Ramya!
Spent thousands of $$, time and effort on my unexplained bloating problem after I once had a stomach infection two years back. Infection went away but bloating remained. The doctor just shrugged his shoulder at the end. Anyway ajwain has given me relief. My wife suggested it at first. Good to read the confirmation here.
The Wikipedia page says they have no proof of its good effects but it is so sure of its bad effects