Monday, June 24, 2024

Omam - Ajwain or Ajowan


                           Omam seeds

Ajwain also known as Ajowan caraway, carom seeds or mistakenly as bishop's weed is an uncommon spice except in certain areas of Asia. Ajwain comes from the Oregano and Caraway family. It is commonly used in Central Asia and India.

It is the small seed-like fruit similar to that of the Bishop's Weed plant, egg-shaped and greyish in colour. The plant has a similarity to parsley. Because of their seed-like appearance, the fruit pods are sometimes called Ajwain seeds or mistakenly as bishops weed seeds.

The seeds look like small caraway seeds, but they taste like a pungent version of thyme. Indian cooks like to sprinkle them on breads. It is a common ingredient in Arabic dishes and its strong aroma is enhanced by roasting or frying and goes well with potatoes or fish. Suitable substitutes are dried thyme, OR cumin OR caraway seeds.

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. It tastes like thyme or caraway, only stronger. Even a small amount of raw Ajwain will completely dominate the flavour of a dish.

In Indian cuisine Ajwain is almost never used raw, but either dry-roasted or fried in ghee or oil. This develops a much more subtle and complex aroma, somewhat similar to caraway but "brighter".

Omam (Ajwain) is used to make a special food called the 'omapodi'. It is also mixed in several snacks of north and south India.

Omam is used to cure digestive problems in children and adults. We know well that Omam water is used to treat gripe and indigestion in infants and children and is a well known remedy in Yarlpanam. Ajwain is much used as a medical plant in Ayurvedic medicine in India. Mainly, it helps against diseases of the digestive tract and fever and is used as an anti emetic. The seeds are stimulant and are useful in counteracting spasmodic disorders.

It is also claimed to be useful in respiratory diseases, common cold and migraine.