Monday, April 15, 2013

Ajowan -What is it good for and how can we eat it?

It’s widely used in India or Iran for headaches as a tea, medicine against cough, heartburn, or antihistamine for allergies. 
Nowadays this folk remedy is getting respected as medicinal herb by western medicine. Medical researchers have identified more than 20 medicinally active compounds; one of them is as strong as morphine. What can we use it for?

1. Pain Relief
It contains Thymol, which can numb pain. If you chew it raw, you can experience numbness on your tongue. We always cook it to take this sting away. They compared ajowan’s pain-numbing power to morphine in laboratory animals and ajowan was found just as effective as morphine!!!
If you want to use for pain relief then slightly roast it on warm pan, then take a spoonful, chew well and follow with glass of water or glass of "karne milk" (butter milk).

2. Healing Digestive Tract (heartburn, belching and bloating, flatulence, diarrhea)
Due to its presence of Choline, a nutrient that aids the brain in sending healing messages to the body it proved to be effective for all these ailments. The most effective was when it’s roasted (roasted seeds steeped in hot water). Scientists found that ajowan is high in acetyl-choline, a chemical that controls involuntary muscles, like those line the gut.

3.  Asthma
A boiled extract of ajowan is comparable to theophylline, a broncho-dilator that expands the airways –was found by researchers.

 4. High Blood Pressure
In laboratory animals ajowan had the same effect as the calcium channel blocker verapamil (Calan) in decreasing the blood pressure. Most likely thanks to its acetylcholine content.

5. Cough
Researchers found that ajowan suppressed cough more effectively than codein in laboratory animals –once again thanks to its acetylcholine content. 
(Source: Bharat B. Aggarwal, phd with Debora Yost: Healing Spices)

I use ajowan in samosa, bread rolls or roti.
I alter the recipes to make them healthier and if the original is Asian, when possible I try swop the Asian ingredients to locally grown ones.  With ajowan it's not possible, but when making Indian "subjies" e.g. some of the vegetables can be localized without ruining the taste.
 On my upcoming cooking courses I can show finally how to make them.
I never deep fry anything, but shallow fry only. When I'm making samosa I stuff the filling into a simple, home made dough. 

If you wish to grind the seeds, dry roast them first.
Whole spices benefit from a light, dry roasting before grinding. We should not burn them, but to brown them.

Heat a small, heavy frying pan (cast iron is said to be the best) over medium heat until in about two minutes. Add the spices, and while shaking the dish at the handle, stir the spices continuously with a wooden spoon, so they don’t burn. For the first minute or two while the spices are losing their moisture, nothing will happen. As they continue to roast, they will start to smoke. You will smell the fragrance.  Continue to roast until they are deep brown.
If you prepare to use a blend, don’t fry the different spices together, because they don’t brown at the same time.

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