Thyme After Thyme


If you like thyme, you will love Ajwain. I came across the spice when I was in culinary school. I didn't use it in any culinary preparation or application, but it was one of those little things that come across your desk when you least expect it. Now to put my love of thyme in perspective, I order a lot of it. If it is now on the invoice, my purveyor knows that I did not put the order in but, most likely, my sous chef. I order pounds at a time. Fresh thyme is in near every application that I can shoehorn it into. But there is a drawback. Thyme is an herb, and like all herbs, most of the compounds are very volatile. This meaning that they will cook off at low tempters and quickly. Another drawback of herbs is the tannins that they sometimes have. These tannins can give the food being cooked a grassy, herbaceous aroma and slightly bitter taste. This is why when using fresh herbs, they are best incorporated in the cooking process towards the last minutes of cooking or just before serving.

Enter Ajwain. Ajwain has an exponential amount of thymol compared to its herbaceous cousin. Thymol is the compound that makes thyme taste like thyme. Ajwain is one of those ingredients that is paired with the nutritional wisdom of its origin. It is often paired with legumes and other pulses to aid in digestion, and from my own experiences, the adding of Ajwain makes for a more appealing dhal. I can't say that it makes beans less filling, but it somehow helps you to feel satiated and still ready for kulfi.

So it is essential to understand that when cooking dishes that take time to cook, reduce, and mature, you can't add all of your herbs and seasonings in the beginning. There are usually cooking seasonings and finishing seasonings. If you have cooked Indian foods, you may notice that you will put a curry spice mix at the beginning of the cooking process. Later you will add the garam masala at the end. This prevents your recipe from becoming "muddy."

So when using Ajwain, you need to remember, it is powerful, and a little will go a long way. For best results, add it in the beginning and cook low and slow. This will make for tender legumes full of flavor if you are like me, then add a little crushed Ajwain at the very end.

Where to buy Ajwain