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I made aloo paratha this weekend, using a recipe from Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" In the intro, Mr. Bittman mentions that the recipe is originally from Julie Sahni, and that he has really only changed it by using cumin instead of ajwain to season the dough. he describes ajwain as "a thyme-like spice" and suggests that the two can be used interchangeably. is this off the mark at all? i have a very small knowledge base concerning Indain spices (I am learning more every day, thanks to eGullet!) so it surprised me to see that thyme and ajwain could be so similar. are there other instances of this? or, is ajwain simply just another name for thyme? thanks in advance for any help! :smile:

my apologies if this has already been covered in a previous thread, but i seem to be very inept at using the "search" function...

"Things go better with cake." -Marcel Desaulniers


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I think he's wrong. Ajwain doesn't taste like thyme to me, nor is it the same a cumin. It has a kind of anise aroma to it, yet it's not an anise seed: It's a wonderful seed all its own. Also, to my knowledge, thyme seeds aren't used (instead we use the leaves).

Michael aka "Pan"


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Yes, ajwain and cumin are completely different. And they taste completely different and I would not use them interchangeably. As a matter of fact, I think they can supplement each other. And I am not surprised that ajwain was used in the dough.

From what I know, I think ajwain is amazing in doughs. Probably something to do with how it responds to baking/roasting vs. cumin (there is prolly a scientific explanation for this but my opinion is purely empirical) - ajwain seems to flavor doughs more strongly than cuimin does. And more subtly, which I know sounds contradictory but I mean it in the sense that it seems to somehow flavor the entire dough whereas cumin seems to appear more in concentrated bursts. You know? And don't get me wrong. I *love* cumin.

Also, fyi, ajwain is supposed to help with digestion. And I believe that. It works. Don't know why. But it does. When we were growing up, my mum would gently dry roast it in a pan and make us have half a teaspoon or so if we complained about tummyaches!

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Also, fyi, ajwain is supposed to help with digestion. And I believe that. It works. Don't know why. But it does. When we were growing up, my mum would gently dry roast it in a pan and make us have half a teaspoon or so if we complained about tummyaches!

Exactly what I was wanting to mention. It is amazing as a digestive. Works wonders. It is as you say the perfect thing to have for a tummy ache.. and even better when feeling nauseous. It always works.

It is most often added in Indian cooking in dishes where chefs (mothers for the most part) know they want the people eating to have some digestives as they eat the dishes. Thus it often gets added into dough for parathas, pooris etc...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hope that helps

How do you keep fresh Thyme Fresh.

Couple of days back I got some fresh Thyme. It was green and full of flavor. I left it in the same store package and refrigerated it and I took it out it was now almost black and not much flavor left.

I got some more Thyme and this time after using it I re-planted it in some water, refrigerarted and when I re-used it this time, it was green but no flavor.

Any suggestions???


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P2, did it have the roots still on? Otherwise the planting in water prolly won't help.

Hvae you tried just wrapping it in a wee bit of newspaper loosely and leaving it in the fridge?

Am just back from dinner. Roots on thyme, I do not remember, will check on it in the morning. As far as I remember I have not seen them with roots and I have not tried them with newspaper and will give it a try as well.

Thank you so much, am a little despo tring to keep this thyme alive !!


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I have had considerable success with thyme if I wrap it gently in barely damp paper towel and then seal it in a re-sealable plastic bag. Seems to stay remarkably fresh and flavourful for at least two weeks in the crisper drawer.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I have had considerable success with thyme if I wrap it gently in barely damp paper towel and then seal it in a re-sealable plastic bag.  Seems to stay remarkably fresh and flavourful for at least two weeks in the crisper drawer.

Thanks a lot , am going to try both wys, in newspaper and paper towel and a ziplog plastic bag


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p2, they may be the same - what anna n and i have described.

the paper to absorb any moisture, which is what causes the rotting and the ziploc to keep the flavor. see, i just put mine in the drawer thingy in my fridge, which would have a similar effect.

good luck

Edited by indiagirl (log)
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