Ajwain Substitute

A variety of herbs and spices

If you’re someone who loves to experiment with different spices and flavors in your cooking, then you must be familiar with ajwain. This spice, also known as carom seeds, is commonly used in Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern cuisine, especially in dishes such as parathas, curries, and pickles. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have ajwain on hand, or you simply want to try something new, then it’s worth looking for an ajwain substitute. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about ajwain substitutes, from their taste and texture to their benefits and uses.

Why look for an Ajwain Substitute?

Before we delve into the substitutes, it’s important to understand why you might need an ajwain substitute in the first place. Here are some reasons:

  • You ran out of ajwain
  • You live in an area where ajwain is not readily available
  • You have friends or family members who are allergic to ajwain
  • You want to try something new and different in your cooking

Another reason why you might need an ajwain substitute is that you are looking for a healthier alternative. While ajwain has many health benefits, such as aiding digestion and reducing inflammation, it is also high in sodium and may not be suitable for those on a low-sodium diet. In this case, you can look for substitutes that have similar health benefits but are lower in sodium, such as cumin or fennel seeds.

Top Ajwain Substitutes to try at home

If you’re looking for an ajwain substitute, you’re in luck – there are plenty of other spices and herbs that can work as a replacement for ajwain. Here are some of the top options:


Thyme is one of the most popular ajwain substitutes, thanks to its similar flavor profile. It has a slightly minty and lemony taste that can add depth and complexity to your dishes. Use 1 teaspoon of thyme as a replacement for 1 teaspoon of ajwain.


Oregano is another excellent ajwain substitute, especially if you’re making Mediterranean or Italian dishes. It has a warm and slightly bitter taste that can complement your other herbs and spices. Use 1 teaspoon of oregano as a replacement for 1 teaspoon of ajwain.

Bishop’s weed

Bishop’s weed, also known as caraway seeds, is a close relative of ajwain and can be used as a substitute in certain dishes. It has a slightly bitter and pungent flavor that can add a unique kick to your curries and stews. Use 1 teaspoon of bishop’s weed as a replacement for 1 teaspoon of ajwain.

However, if you’re looking for a substitute that has a milder taste, you can try using cumin seeds. Cumin seeds have a warm and earthy flavor that can work well in dishes that require ajwain. Use 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds as a replacement for 1 teaspoon of ajwain.

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Ajwain vs. Ajwain Substitute: What’s the difference?

While ajwain substitutes can mimic the flavor and aroma of ajwain to some extent, they’re not exactly the same. Ajwain has a distinct taste and texture that can’t be replicated by other spices. It has a unique combination of thyme, cumin, and anise flavors, along with a slightly bitter and pungent aftertaste. Ajwain seeds are also small and oval-shaped, with a ridged texture.

Ajwain is commonly used in Indian cuisine, particularly in dishes like pakoras, samosas, and chutneys. It’s also used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat digestive issues, respiratory problems, and even toothaches. The essential oil extracted from ajwain seeds is used in aromatherapy to relieve stress and anxiety.

When using ajwain substitutes, it’s important to keep in mind that they may alter the taste and aroma of your dish. Some common substitutes for ajwain include caraway seeds, thyme, and oregano. However, these spices have their own distinct flavors and may not provide the same depth of flavor as ajwain.

How to use Ajwain Substitute in your cooking

When using ajwain substitutes in your cooking, it’s important to keep in mind the flavor and aroma profile of the original spice. You may need to adjust the amount or combination of other ingredients to balance out any differences in taste. Here are some tips:

  • Start with a small amount of the substitute and gradually increase it until you achieve the desired taste
  • Combine the substitute with other complementary spices, such as cumin, coriander, or fennel
  • Use the substitute in the same way as you would use ajwain – for example, as a seasoning for breads, vegetables, or meats

It’s important to note that not all ajwain substitutes will have the same health benefits as the original spice. Ajwain is known for its digestive and medicinal properties, and some substitutes may not have the same effects. If you are using a substitute for its health benefits, be sure to research and choose a substitute that has similar properties.

Benefits of using an Ajwain Substitute

One of the main benefits of using an ajwain substitute is to add variety and diversity to your cooking. You can experiment with different combinations of herbs and spices to create unique and flavorful dishes that suit your taste and preferences. Moreover, if you’re allergic to ajwain or sensitive to its strong flavor, then a substitute can allow you to enjoy similar tastes and aromas without any adverse effects.

Another benefit of using an ajwain substitute is that it can be more easily accessible and affordable than the original spice. Ajwain is a specialty spice that may not be readily available in all grocery stores, and it can also be quite expensive. By using a substitute, you can still achieve a similar flavor profile without having to search for or spend extra money on the original spice.

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Additionally, using an ajwain substitute can be a great way to introduce new flavors and ingredients into your cooking. You may discover a new favorite spice or herb that you wouldn’t have otherwise tried if you had stuck to using only ajwain. This can help expand your culinary knowledge and skills, and make cooking a more enjoyable and creative experience.

When to use an Ajwain Substitute instead of the real thing

While ajwain is a versatile spice that can enhance many dishes, there are situations where a substitute might be more appropriate. Here are some examples:

  • You’re making a dish that requires a mild flavor and aroma, and ajwain might overpower it
  • You’re cooking for someone who is allergic to ajwain or dislikes its taste and smell
  • You’re experimenting with a new recipe that calls for a different spice or herb

Another situation where you might want to use an ajwain substitute is when you don’t have access to the real thing. Ajwain is not as widely available as other spices, and it might be difficult to find in some areas. In this case, you can use a substitute that is more readily available in your region.

It’s also worth noting that some ajwain substitutes might have different health benefits or drawbacks compared to the real thing. For example, caraway seeds are often used as a substitute for ajwain, but they have a different flavor profile and might not have the same digestive benefits. If you’re using a substitute for health reasons, it’s important to do your research and choose a substitute that has similar properties to ajwain.

Expert Tips on finding the best Ajwain Substitute for your dish

If you’re unsure which ajwain substitute to use, or how much to use, then you can follow these tips from experts:

  • Choose a substitute that has a similar flavor and aroma profile to ajwain, such as thyme or oregano
  • Use a smaller amount of the substitute than the original spice, and adjust as needed
  • Combine the substitute with other complementary spices to enhance its taste and aroma
  • Experiment with different substitutes and seasoning combinations to find your favorite flavor

Another important factor to consider when choosing an ajwain substitute is the texture of the spice. Ajwain has a slightly gritty texture, so you may want to choose a substitute that has a similar texture, such as caraway seeds or cumin.

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It’s also important to note that some ajwain substitutes may have a stronger or milder flavor than ajwain itself. For example, caraway seeds have a stronger flavor, while cumin has a milder flavor. Keep this in mind when choosing a substitute and adjust the amount accordingly.

Where to buy or how to make an Ajwain Substitute

If you’re looking to buy ajwain substitutes, you can find them at most grocery stores or online spice shops. Alternatively, you can make your own substitutes by grinding or blending different herbs and spices together. For example, you can mix equal parts of thyme, cumin, and anise seeds with a pinch of salt and use it as an ajwain substitute.

Another option for making an ajwain substitute is to use caraway seeds. Caraway seeds have a similar flavor profile to ajwain and can be used in equal amounts as a substitute. You can also try using fennel seeds or celery seeds as a replacement for ajwain.

It’s important to note that while these substitutes may have a similar flavor to ajwain, they may not have the same health benefits. Ajwain is known for its digestive and medicinal properties, so if you’re using it for its health benefits, it’s best to stick with the real thing.

How to store and preserve your Ajwain Substitute

To ensure that your ajwain substitute stays fresh and flavorful, you should store it in an airtight container away from moisture and heat. It’s best to use your substitute within a few weeks of making or buying it, as the flavor may diminish over time. If you’re making a large batch, you can freeze it in small portions to use as needed.

With these tips and suggestions, you can now confidently try out different ajwain substitutes in your cooking and discover new flavors and tastes. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner, there’s always room for experimentation and creativity in the kitchen. Happy cooking!

Another way to preserve your ajwain substitute is to add a small amount of salt to it. Salt acts as a natural preservative and can help extend the shelf life of your substitute. However, be careful not to add too much salt, as it can alter the flavor of your dish.

Additionally, if you’re using fresh herbs or spices to make your ajwain substitute, you can dry them out first before mixing them together. Drying herbs and spices can help remove any excess moisture, which can cause your substitute to spoil faster. You can dry them out by placing them in a warm, dry place for a few days or by using a dehydrator.