Ajwain is known in English as Bishop’s weed, although this may not be the correct name for this herb, as it also has discrepancies in its Latin name. The herb we use at home in Pakistan is Trachyspermum ammi, but there is a Trachyspermum copticum and Carum copticum. It is used for culinary purposes just like thyme, which is why we gave thyme that name in Urdu. However we stand corrected. Ajwain contains thymol, so is an anti-fungicide and also has antibacterial properties. It is believed to have originated in Iran and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Every household on the subcontinent probably has ajwain and its seeds, as it they are used in medicine as well as cooking. The seeds are carminative and classed as a spice. As a medicine it is used for a multitude of purposes, but if you dry fry the seeds and wrap them in cloth and put them near to you while you sleep they will clear nasal congestion if you have a cold. The plant is used for indigestion, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, dysentery, cholera, flatulence. The seeds are eaten with betel leaves to relieve dyspepsia, spasmodic disorders and flatulence. For colic take 3 grams of the following ingredients with warm water: 20gr Ajwain, 10 gr dried ginger and 5 gr black salt ground together.
The fresh herb is rubbed on warts to get rid of them. The boiled seeds cleanse the eyes and cure deafness it is said.
Ajwain is believed to have been known to the ancient Greeks and Romans and Dioscorides may have been describing ajwain when he mentioned “Ethiopian or Royal cumin”. It seems this plant has always been the subject of some confusion!
The sap from the plant is collected by traditional healers or hakims and dried and sold in a type of crystalline form. You need just 1 crystal to a cup of boiling water and add honey to taste in order to keep illness at bay during autumn and winter. It is said to cure colds and coughs too. It tastes fine once you get over the initial smell, so don't be put off. It seems to work too!
To make a tisane with ajwain you need ¼ tsp fresh ginger root finely grated, ¼ tsp ground green cardamom seeds, ¼ tsp powdered cinnamon and ¼ tsp ajwain seeds. Mix the ground spices together and pour a cup of boiling water over the mixture. Leave this to steep for 5 minutes then strain and drink. This helps the body generally and is good if you have a cold.
imli (tamarind) seeds and fry them in ghee with gur (jaggery) and preserve the mixture. They say that it increases the male sperm count cures premature ejaculation and increases the libido of both sexes.
Another belief from subcontinental folklore is that the ajwain seeds should be soaked in lemon juice and dried seven times before being eaten in order to cure impotence and erectile dysfunctions. As ajwain contains calcium, iron, phosphorous, carotene, thiamine and riboflavin, there’s no denying that it is a health-giving plant.
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil or ghee
oil for frying
Heat ½ cup water but don’t boil it, then mix the oil or ghee with it.
Mix all the other ingredients together and make a paste with the water. Leave the doughy mixture to stand for 1 hour.
You now need to roll out the dough until it is very thin and cut it into 3 inch length pieces (about ½ to 1 inch wide).
Heat the oil and fry them until they are brown pat dry on absorbent paper and eat while still warm.
Eat as a snack like crisps.
These have Taste and are a Treat.