Ajwain is called the Bishop’s weed in English; sometimes it is also known as carom seeds or ajwan in English. The botanical names of ajwain are trachyspermum ammi, ptychotis ajowan, carum ajowan or carum capticum.
- Trachyspermum ammi: Ajwain inflorescence (umbel)
- Carum copticum/Trachyspermum copticum: Ajwain fruits
Other names of ajwain in various Indian languages are as follows –
- Hindi – अजवाइन (Ajvain), अजवान (Ajvan), अजवायन (Ajvayan)
- Maithili – जमाइन, जमाईन (Jamain)
- Sinhala – අසමෝදගම් (Asamodagam)
- Tamil – ஓமம் (Omam)
- Gujarati – યવણો (yavano)
- Bengali – জোয়ান (jowan)
- Punjabi – ਐਜਵਾਇਨ (aijavain)
The plant family of ajwain is Apiaceae i.e. parsley family. The small dried caraway like fruits is the used plant part and is called ajwain. The main component of ajwain is thymol which consists of antiseptic and bactericidal properties.
Thymol is also a natural anti-flatulence and antiseptic agent. The steam distillation of crushed ajwain seeds churns out the essential oil preserved inside. The thymol is actually present inside this oil and is valued for its great medicinal property.
In the dried fruit of ajwain following constituents are present –
Essential oil – 2.5 to 5 % (dominated by)
- oleic acid
- linoleic acid
- palmitic acid
The calorific value of the ajwain seeds is 363. The seeds comprise of minerals, fat, protein, moisture, carbohydrates, calcium, fibre, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, thiamine, carotene, and niacin. Ajwain oil has a sharp hot taste and it is a colourless brownish liquid.
Ajwain is said to be most famous in Arab Republic of Egypt and it is also believed that it originated here and some areas of eastern Mediterranean region. Actually, Ajwain is quite known for its extensive cultivation along the riverside in Egypt. Besides Egypt, it also grows in abundance in other countries including Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.
Today, South Asian region, especially southern India, is the main producer of ajwain. Ajwain also formed an important herb in the Indian folklore practice and is a common household remedy for many health problems.
Ajwain in Indian Cooking
Appropriate legume to be cooked using ajwain is lentils and also in items high in starch ajwain is a superb addictive. In many parts of India, ajwain is added to the rotis, parathas, salty baked biscuits, etc. The spice is basically a carminative and enhances the taste of all food. In northern India, it is typically taken with buttermilk to form a strong anti-acidic agent.
In Indian cooking, Ajwain is used while preparing pulses, vegetables, pickles, etc. The taste of Ajwain is so sharp that that it can cut through rich flavours in the food which are densely spiced. Especially, a pinch of ajwain makes wonders when added to lentils, root vegetables, beans, potatoes, etc. In different types of rice preparation in India ajwain is specifically used. Ajwain tastes actually good when mixed with a list of other spices such as turmeric, cumin, paprika, black pepper, coriander, fennel, etc.
Ajwain in Ayurveda
यवानी पाचनी रुच्या तीक्ष्णोष्णा कटुका लघु: ।
दीपनी च तथा तिक्ता पित्तला शुक्रशूलहृत ॥
वातश्लेष्मोदरानाह गुल्म प्लीहक्रिमिप्रणुत ।
The pungent bitterness, sharp action, and hot potency of ajwain increase the Pitta effect in its consumer. The ajwain subdues Vatta and Kapha effect inside the body and it is also recommended in colic pain owing to gaseous dissention or flatulency. Ayurveda also recommends ajwain in various splenic disorders. Ajowan is another name of ajwain which is most commonly used in Ayruveda.
The Latin name of ajwain is carum copticum. Generally, ajwain is used liberally during the winters and its usage becomes limited in summers. Ajwain can also be used either as one of the core ingredients in the treatment of various ailments including bile, stomach worm, ulcers, itching, ringworm, menstrual and post-natal disorders, female infertility, leucorrhoea, kidney stones and pimples. On the other hand it can also be used as a strong aphrodisiac.
As a medical spice, ajwain is used in the following ways –
- Stomach tonic – Ajwian is an extremely efficient stomach tonic used to clean digestion tract. It acts as a powerful decongestant for digestive tract. Ajwain is extremely light on stomach and it boosts gastric absorption by stimulating all digestive juices. However, the hot potency of ajwain may lead to gastric burning if consumed in excess quantities.
- Weakness treatment – Used in the treatment of impuissance condition of limbs and even in paralysis. Ayurvedic physicians recommend ajwian water to combat paralysis and trembling.
- Kidney, spleen, liver diseases can also be treated by using ajwain as an ayurvedic spice. Ajwain is specifically used to promote kidney function. It is recommended by doctors for dissolving and discharging stones in gall bladder and urinary tracts.
- Instead of consuming antibiotics as pain killer, relief from any kind of body ache is possible with the accurate dosage of ajwian.
- Heart tonic – Ajwain intake reduces various heart risks. It reduces intestinal ailments including gas and stomach upset, dyspepsia, etc.
- Ajwain energizes nerves and is a powerful respiratory stimulant which plays the role of an influential decongestant for airways inside the body.
- There are a number of other health benefits of ajwain. It strengthens metabolism, boosts blood circulation, detoxifies the body, increases sexual potency, cures deafness, and provides relief from spasmodic orders.
- As mentioned in ancient folklores, ajwain prompts early recovery after delivery as it cleanses the uterus and also aids in lactation.
- Ajwain is a natural diaphoretic or detoxifying agent, it promotes elimination of toxic waste in the form of perspiration.
- As a strong expectorant, ajwain cures dry cough, helps body discharge phlegm and mucus from throat and lungs. It also works wonders curing asthma, laryngitis and bronchitis.
- Roasted ajwain when tied to the handkerchief and smelt at regular intervals becomes tremendously helpful in treating migraine and sinusitis.
- Lukewarm water prepared from boiling one teaspoon of ground ajwain and little salt; gurgling with this water is extremely beneficial for curing tooth ache.
Ajwain Seed (Trachyspermum ammi)