Ajwain Seeds are a pungent little spice that packs a lot into a small package. Not quite as large as a sesame seed, whole Ajwain Seed have an aggressive flavor that comes on hard and fast, and lingers. A relative of thyme and caraway, Ajwain Seed seems to embrace the characteristics of other spices and herbs. At first bite, Ajwain Seed releases a light, floral thyme flavor, which quickly gives way to an oregano-like astringency that floats around the top notes. Right after that, bitter pepper kicks in with a little burn that lingers on the tongue, fading into an almost hoppy flavor that tingles as it fades. The smell is primarily reminiscent of thyme—with a hint of caraway lingering in the back—and that is thanks to the abundant volatile oil content. Ajwain Seeds contain anywhere between 2.5-5% volatile oil and is primarily thymol, the compound that gives thyme its distinctive flavor and aroma. A volatile oil content of 5%, however, is more that twice the oils found in thyme, which accounts for its aggressive flavor and lingering mouthfeel.
Delicately tiny, striped Ajwain Seeds look like the miniature cousins of caraway and cumin seed, and they are in fact related. But they are misnamed. Ajwain Seeds, unlike their cousins caraway and cumin, are not seeds but rather, very small fruits. They are classified as schizocarps, a fruit that, when mature, splits into two seed-bearing packages called mericarps. This helps explain the abundance of volatile oils in Ajwain Seed; none of it is depleted by diverting into the fruit casing, or the body of the seed. The volatile oils are retained all in one small but potent package.
Tips From Our Kitchen
Ajwain Seed is a standard ingredient in Indian cuisine, particularly in northern India. It’s also found in dishes throughout Asia, Ethiopia, Iran and Pakistan. As mentioned before, Ajwain Seed has an aggressive flavor. One teaspoon is usually enough for one pot of food. Toasting it in ghee or olive oil will help temper ajwain’s bold flavors while coaxing out this spice’s subtle back flavors, like that hint of anise that emerges with heat. Ajwain Seed can withstand a long cooking time and is great in lighter dishes like soup, which allows it to mellow and develop its nuances. We also recommend toasting Ajwain Seed and then adding at the end of cooking time to highlight its sharp, biting qualities, particularly if the dish you’re making is starchy or fatty, like a thick curry or fried potatoes. It is a staple in the Indian pantry and is a great addition to classic Indian flatbreads, like paratha or roti. We also offer Ground Ajwain if you want a milder version of this spice.
Our Ajwain Seed is cultivated in India.
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Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*