Herb & Spice Studies- Ajowan

(Photo courtesy of Super Stock)

Disclaimer- By no means is any post I do under this heading meant to be complete or gospel, etc. It is merely information I have gleaned from various books I own and am sharing. This information is for personal use only.


Also known as Carum/Carom, Bishops Weed, Ajwain, Omum or Ajwan
Latin- Trachyspermum ammi
Family- Umbelliferae

Is a close relative of Parsley, and Cilantro. Seeds are small, tear shaped, and light brown in color. Looks very similar to celery seed, but is a bit larger in size. Is also related to Caraway and Cumin. Grows 1-2ft in height, with feathery leaves and red flowers.

The taste is said to be similar to that of Thyme. Tends to contain high levels of the volatile oil Thymol which is commonly used as a germicide or antiseptic. After taste is sharp, peppery with warm notes. In the 19th Cent, Ajowan was the world source for Thymol oil which was then used in mouthwash, toothpastes, cough syrups and herbal medicines.

Ajowan is native to the Indian subcontinent, is grown in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and India generally. Almost all export of Thymol oil from Ajowan was to Germany prior to WWI.

It's harvested in midsummer, seeds separated, dried and stored in airtight containers out of direct sun, heat and moisture. The seeds are either used ground into a fine powder, or lightly bruised prior to adding to a dish.

Modern uses include savory biscuits, pastry for meat dishes, steamed cabbage, grilled or bbq'd meats, fishes, curries, pickles and chutneys. Is still used in folk medicine to control flatulence, indigestion, colic, diarrhea, and other bowel disorders, as well as asthma.

Some Indian recipes refer to Ajowan as Lovage as the leaves appear to taste very similar.

Online source for whole Ajowan seeds. I have not purchased from here yet, so cannot say how good their products are at this time.

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Bibliography entry has been updated to include several more books.