known as Carom, Ajowan, Bishop's Weed and
Seeds Of Bishop's Weed), is an uncommon
spice except in certain areas of Asia. It is
the small seed-like fruit of the Bishop's
Weed plant, (Trachyspermum ammi syn. Carum
copticum), egg-shaped and grayish in color.
The plant has a similarity to parsley.
Ajwain is often confused with lovage seed;
even some dictionaries mistakenly state that
ajwain comes from the lovage plant.
Raw ajwain smells almost exactly like thyme
because it also contains thymol, but is more
aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well
as slightly bitter and pungent. Even a small
amount of raw ajwain will completely
dominate the flavor of a dish.
In Indian cuisine, ajwain is almost never
used raw, but either dry-roasted or fried in
ghee. This develops a much more subtle and
complex aroma, somewhat similar to caraway
Ajwain originated in the Middle East,
possibly in Egypt. It is now primarily grown
and used in the Indian Subcontinent, but
also in Iran, Egypt and Afghanistan. It is
sometimes used as an ingredient in berbere,
an Ethiopian spice mixture.
Preparation / Form
The dried fruits of
the plant are used.
Because they look like
seeds, some call Ajwain,
Ajwain seed. The flavour
of this spice can be
improved by roasting
the small fruits in
a dry pan.
It is used in India and Africa, and one of
the most common uses is with lentils.
Supposedly it can reduce the gassy effect of
beans when the two are cooked together. One
suggestion is to use it along with cumin,
whenever cumin is called for.