|Flowers of Trachyspermum ammi|
Trachyspermum ammi, commonly known as ajowan or ajwain, bishop's weed, ajowan caraway, carom seeds, or thymol seeds,or vaamu in Telugu or omam (ஓமம்) in Tamil is a plant of India, Pakistan and the Near East whose seeds are used as a spice.
The plant has a similarity to parsley. Because of their seed-like appearance, the fruit pods are sometimes called seeds; they are egg-shaped and grayish in colour.
The 'seed' (i.e., the fruit pod) is often confused with lovage seed; even some dictionaries mistakenly state that comes from the lovage plant. An online search for lovage seeds finds many stores calling their ajwain seeds lovage.
Flavour and aroma
The raw fruit pod of Trachyspermum ammi 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 fruit pods of Trachyspermum ammi tend to dominate the flavour of a dish.
Trachyspermum ammi originated in the Middle East, possibly in Egypt, and the Indian subcontinent, but also in Iran and Afghanistan. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in berbere, a spice mixture favored in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Trachyspermum ammi is traditionally believed to be a digestive aid. In southern parts of India, dry Trachyspermum ammi seeds are powdered and soaked in milk, which is then filtered and fed to babies. People in North India especially find it very effective in stomach pain, when taken large spoonful with a pinch of salt and a glass of water. Its very effective when swallowed with warm water. Ajwain is usually added to hard to digest recipes like pakoda, bajji etc.
- USDA GRIN entry
-  ITIS entry for Trachyspermum ammi
- Davidson, Alan, and Tom Jaine. The Oxford companion to food. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006. 805. Print. Retrieved Aug. 08, 2010, from ouCbL2AC&lpg=PA805&dq=baumkuchen&pg=PA9#v=onepage&q&f=false[dead link]
- Ajwain from The Encyclopedia of Spices
- Ajwain page from Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages
- Hawrelak, JA; Cattley, T; Myers, SP (2009). "Essential oils in the treatment of intestinal dysbiosis: A preliminary in vitro study". Alternative medicine review : a journal of clinical therapeutic 14 (4): 380–4. PMID 20030464.
Hill, Tony. (2004) "Ajwain" in The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices: Seasonings for the Global Kitchen. Wiley. p. 21-23. ISBN 978-0-471-21423-6.