Ajwan

 

Ajwan spice-Kahliya-logue

Since I have introduced Ajwain in my recent post,I feel the need to elaborate on this delightful Spice which has become another favorite of mine,though seemingly not widely known.

My first encounter with Ajwan was quite funny.Years back my sister in law brought me a batch of  a very popular savory biscuit in the mediterranean region,called Kaak, that her Grandmother prepared.I adore these biscuits,but when I took one bite I was totally captured,I have never tasted ones like these.As I tried to further explore their flavor,and discover what it was that made them so special..I found it! I took them apart and found this small innocent looking seed..I asked her what it is..and she had no idea..I kept nudging her till she asked her grandmother from Yemen,who in return explained that this is ”Nachua” -a spice from her specific region in yemen-Aden,and that she has them sent to her especially from the community in London!My God,I said to myself,I have discovered GOLD,this must be special.. I then waited for the next supply to arrive,so I can see the original package.When I did,it read ”Ajwan”,thats weird I thought..

Those days I found a great spice shop,owned by a young man of Yemen origin,I immediatly asked him,tell me,do you have any Nachua? He looked at me kind of weird and said,now how the hell do you know about Nachua?He told me that only Yemenite people from that specific area know about it(especially using this name)..  I considered myself lucky and started to experiment with it..! He also explained that it is great for digestion and stomach aches;and on a different note that some people drink it in their coffee..

When I moved to Paris,and those days I was very much exposed to Ayurveda,I started to explore the indian grocery shops,and there much to my surprise was my friend ”Ajwan”.I was delighted !

I deliberately went into detail here,as I am thrilled once again to trackdown roots and origins of our habits,only to discover ,sometimes in the most surprising places and ways,where they meet aswell as where they differ.

“Ajwan”  as I know it or “Ajwain” is a popular spice in India,normally used in the preparations of dals and pulse dishes,aswell as vegetable dishes and Indian breads such as Parathas,though it seems it`s origin is in Eastern mediterranean,maybe Egypt! Possibly arriving in India during the Greek conquest of Central Asia.In Ayurveda,it is highly appreciated for its  carminative effects aiding in digestion,dispelling gas,releving stomach aches and even used for asthma!

An infusion of these seeds in hot water is an excellent remedy for many stomach related problems,chewing on a few seeds after a heavy meal aids in its digestion,as the presence in the preparation of certain dishes aids in the digestion of that dish..hence maybe the original reason for it`s presence in pulse dishes.

I find that in it`s appearance it resembles exactly the Anise seed,and as I have mentioned earlier it`s flavor slightly resembles Thyme,as it also contains Thymol,but has a much stronger taste,somewhat reminding me of the Cardamom spice.Therefore I personally love adding them into many of my savory pastries.

 

Some very interesting references:

Wikipedia

kfunigraz.ac.at

Kingtutshop.com

I would love to hear if any of you know of this spice from a different angle or origin!

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7 Responses to “Ajwan”

  1. I really want to smell and taste these seeds. I will look for them in Indian food stores in Berkeley. Love your story.

  2. By total serendipity, after reading your post, I read this one:
    http://jugalbandi.info/2009/03/baked-masala-peanuts-and-pumpkin-seeds/
    More ajwan coming my way.

    • kahliyalogue Says:

      Thank you Simona! Go for it! Pleasure garanteed.. 🙂 I happened to see they sell it online aswell,just in case..

      That looks amazing! thanx for sending it my way,must try it.I am also excited about this photo contest,definitely up my lane,love to make a go at it! Grazie.

  3. […] Kahliya-logue « Ajwan […]

  4. I love this spice, I recognized it from the photo but did not know it was called Ajwan. In Mauritius (and I think in India too) we also get it coated with sugar candy. They’re very nice to eat on their own! I like them mostly in sweet things. I haven’t seen them over here in Dublin though. But then I haven’t particularly looked for them! Thanks for posting this and reminding me about how good these magic grains are!

  5. kahliyalogue Says:

    hello butterfly!
    I am wondering if youre not referring to Anise seeds which resemble exactly visually but have a sweeter tendency or fennel seeds which are a bit larger and lighter in color and resemble the Anise in flavor,both widely used in sweet preparations and even served at the end of a meal at Indian restaurants to freshen the palate and aid in digestion.Though Im pretty sure Ajwain must exist in Mauritius aswell,hopefully I`ll check it out myself one of these days as Im just dying to go there! 🙂

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