Culinary Spices and Their Benefits - Buying And Using Ajowan and Cumin Seeds
Ajowan scientifically known as trachyspermum copticum or carum copticum is a spice that is widely used in African and Asian cuisine, especially in India. Ajowan is also known as carom seeds and is known by the name of ajwain in Northern India and omam in Southern India. Ajowan grows in hot and dry weather and is believed to have originated from Egypt. Ajowan belongs to the Umbelliferae family, which has more than 2700 members including caraway, cumin, etc.
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As you can see in the image above, ajowan is a small oval shaped seed with a grayish beige or green stripes. Ajowan spice has a powerful aroma and flavor and has been used in cooking for many centuries due to its culinary benefits. The taste and flavor of ajowan is very intense, so it is used in cooking on a moderate basis. A pinch of ajwain does the work. Like most culinary spices of Indian origin, ajowan also has medicinal benefits due to its digestive, antiseptic, antibacterial, and aphrodisiac properties.
In the kitchen, ajowan is used to flavor Indian breads, especially paratha and also curry vegetables, fish, meat, tarka legumes, and potatoes. A small pinch of ajowan can be eaten raw for digestive purposes, as it is helpful in heartburn and acid ingestion. Ajowan is usually fried in ghee to be used for making Indian spice mix tarka and also roasted and heated to extract its essential oils, flavor, and aroma in the food.
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You can buy ajowan online or from specialty stores selling exquisite culinary spices, culinary herbs, flavorings, and seasonings. Ajowan can also be purchased from gourmet shops selling spice blends. Buying ajowan of Indian origin is highly recommended to add intense flavor to your food and recipes.
Cumin is scientifically known as cuminum cyminum and is an annual plant which belongs to Umbelliferae family having small and lanceolate leaves, white or pink flowers, and cumin seeds which are used in cooking, especially in the Mediterranean region. Cumin is known since ancient times and its origin lies in the Asia. Cumin seeds were very popular in ancient Greece and were served on their tables as we now serve salt and pepper for enhancing the taste and flavor of a recipe.
Today, dry cumin is a spice widely used in Indian, Arab, and Mediterranean cuisine not only for its culinary benefits providing intense aroma and flavor to the food but also due its therapeutic properties.
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A cumin seed is very similar to an anise seed or a caraway and fennel and sometimes people get confused due to its shape and size. Cumin seed is ovoid, elongated, and ridged and usually comes in yellow green or brown colors. Master chefs believe that cumin is the second most popular spice after pepper because its aromatic content gets penetrated deeply in any recipe it is added to. Cumin provides a very distinctive flavor which is a combination of bitter and spicy sweet.
Like all dry culinary spices, it is ideal to buy whole cumin seeds and after that you can ground, pre-roast, and grind them as necessary. Cumin has been used since ancient times in cooking many traditional recipes. They can also be added to bread and cheese for a distinct flavor. Dutch gouda cheese with cumin is the most popular cheese having cumin seeds for flavor and taste.
Cumin spice is also an important ingredient in sausages. Cumin is also added in famous vegetable recipes including hummus and falafel from Arabic cuisine. Cumin seeds are also added in marinades, stewed meat, cakes, and drinks. Cumin seeds are also added in Indian spice blends like garam masala, tandoori masala , and curry Arabic spice blends like Baharat and Ras el hanout which are all the most popular blends of culinary spices and herbs. Interestingly, cumin spice is also used in dukkah or duqqa from Egypt.
Cumin seeds when added to dishes and recipes work as a bowel toner, so they are highly recommend in dishes made up of vegetables like cabbage or others which cause flatulence and gas. Water of cumin seeds can also be taken as an infusion to facilitate slow digestion. You can buy cumin spice from gourmet shops or local grocery stores selling traditional spices. Least but not last, cumin spice is great for nutrient assimilation and digestion and has a loads of culinary benefits and therapeutic properties mentioned above.