(pronounced aj’o-wen) is a member of the Umbelliferae family,
which has some 2,700 members including dill, caraway and
cumin. It is mostly found in Indian cooking, where it is also
known as bishop’s weed or carom. It is particularly suited to
the delicate vegetarian fare found in the state of Gujarat.
This valued considerably in
medicine on account of the presence of thymol. The oil of
ajwain is an almost colourless to brownish liquid with
characteristic odour and a sharp hot taste. Ajwain is called
omam in the southern part of India.
Ajwain also enjoys some popularity in the Arabic world and is
found in berbere, a spice mixture of Ethiopia which both shows
Indian and Arabic heritage.
An valuable unani ingredient Ajwain or bishop's weed is
cultivated in black soil particularly along the riverbank
throughout India and also Iran, Egypt and Afghanistan. It is a
small, erect, annual shrub with soft fine hairs.
contain an essential oil which is about 50% thymol which is a
strong germicide, anti-spasmodic and fungicide. Thymol is also
used in toothpaste and perfumery. It is used in a steeped
liquid form against diarrhea and flatulence. In India the
seeds are used as a household remedy for indigestion and
colic, and used in poultices to relieve asthma and arthritis.
It also has aphrodisiac properties and the Ananga Ranga
prescribes it for increasing a husband’s enjoyment in his
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