A spice that every Indian household is all too familiar with is Ajwain. Ajwain (scientific name Trachyspermum ammi) is also known as Carom seeds, Ajowan Caraway or Bishop’s Weed. The Latin name for this spice is carum copticum. An annual herb belonging to the Apiaceae family, both the leaves and the seed‑like fruit (often mistakenly called seeds) of the plant are edible.
Ajwain's small, oval-shaped, seed-like fruits which vary from olive green to brown in colour, resemble the seeds of other plants in the family such as caraway, cumin and fennel. Ajwain seeds have a bitter and pungent taste, with a flavour similar to Anise and Oregano. They smell almost exactly like thyme because they also contain Thymol, but they are more aromatic and less subtle in taste.
All parts of this herb have a very strong scent hence it is also known as Ugragandha in Sanskrit. It is one of those rare spices that fulfill the double purpose of adding flavour and being good for health.
According to Ayurveda, it is a potent Amanashak, which means it reduces toxin formation in the digestive canal, restricting indigestion and malabsorption. It provides relief against constipation and treats flatulence. In India, it is commonly added to deep-fried foods, such as fritters, to help ease of digestion. A pinch added to buttermilk or lassi is good to promote digestion if taken after lunch.
Oma (Ajwain) water is also often given to babies to reduce the problem of gas that causes discomfort. Boil 2 teaspoons of roasted Ajwain seeds in water. Strain this mixture and use. Ajwain water is also said to be good for weight loss.
Ajwain seeds are rich in fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. As the seeds contain saponins and phenolic compounds, they are used in Ayurvedic medicines for digestive ailments, mental diseases and respiratory disorders. It also helps to increase the appetite. These seeds also have powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties due to its active compounds, Thymol and Carvacrol.
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Ajwain has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help in reducing long term or chronic inflammation especially the soreness related to arthritis. They also contain vitamins and minerals like niacin, thiamine, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium.
A lot of people dry roast Ajwain seeds or even toast it in ghee or butter before adding it to a dish as this refines the aroma as well as the flavour. They can even be chewed raw, added to water or tea to extract maximum benefits.
Benefits of Ajwain:
Loss of appetite
Gas or flatulence
Abdominal pain or cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
High cholesterol levels
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Backache during periods
The active enzymes present in this drink will allow your body to release gastric juices, helping deal with indigestion and acidity.
Ajwain can help bring down triglyceride and cholesterol levels in your body and can improve HDL levels (good cholesterol) in your body.
It is good for the common cold as Ajwain water helps to discharge the mucus present in the nasal passage. To ease symptoms of cold, inhale the steam of Ajwain seeds infused in hot water.