An annual in the Apiaceae family, Trachyspermum ammi has small, oval-shaped fruits (or seeds) that are bitter in taste and highly aromatic. Also called carom, the seeds are often dry roasted and enjoyed as a spice in savory dishes, baked goods, and even sweet desserts. Ajwain seeds are also employed in Ayurvedic healing practices for their beneficial properties. Ajwain seed is typically used in culinary recipes and condiments.
It was originally from the eastern Mediterranean but is now mostly cultivated along riverbanks in central Asia, India, and much of Egypt. The dried fruits (seeds) are used in all types of Middle Eastern, African, and Indian cooking usually in their whole form. They lend a flavor that is savory and somewhat bitter. The seeds add balance to sweet soups and stews and are said to lessen the gaseous effects of beans. Ajwain goes well with light proteins, legumes, and in curries, and may be combined with turmeric, paprika, cumin, fennel, and coriander. Ajwain seeds are associated with the Ayurvedic tradition and are used as a digestive aid as well as for minor stomach complaints.
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