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Ajwain is used as a food ingredient for its very sweet fragrance. An ayurvedic herb known for rejuvenating the digestive system and good for nursing mothers.
Ajwain originated in the Middle East, possibly in Egypt and the Indian Subcontinent, but also in Iran, Egypt and Afghanistan. This is a very minor spice in terms of volume of production as well as in terms of its usage, both in India as well as in International markets. 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 flavor 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". At Morarka some farmers in South Rajasthan project areas and some in Maharashtra project areas are cultivating this spice in reasonable quantities. The traditional varieties have very fine grain and most of the consumption is also in whole grain form. In recent years some hybrid varieties having very bold grains are also cultivated due to its good appearance, but when used in whole form it gives bitter taste in the mouth, and thus is not very popular.
Among other things, it is used for making a type of parantha, called 'ajwain ka parantha'. It is also traditionally known as a digestive aid, relieves abdominal discomfort due to indigestion and antiseptic. In southern parts of India dry ajwain seeds are powdered and soaked in milk, which is then filtered and fed to babies and kids to relieve colic, also improves digestion and appetite. In the northern part of India, Ajwain is often consumed after a heavy meal commonly offered after dinner parties.
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