An ornamental plant with tender leaves that doubles as a medicinal and culinary ingredient!
Ajwain seeds are an essential ingredient in the Indian kitchen. It is packed with many health benefits and its pungent taste and aroma make it an essential ingredient in many dishes. But do you know that the Ajwain leaf is equally useful? The Ajwain leaves can be plucked from an Ajwain plant after it matures, which is usually six to seven weeks after it is planted (or transplanted in case you are using a stem cutting). It is very easy to grow the Ajwain plant at home. The Ajwain leaves are pulpy and soft. The leaves have a coating of soft hair-like structures on their surface. It is best to harvest the leaves from the plant before these hair-like structures become prominent.
The Ajwain plant is known by many other names such as bishop’s weed, carom plant, or ajowan and is found across regions of South Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. In all these subcontinents, the plant and its various parts such as seeds, leaves and flowers find a variety of culinary and medicinal applications. In India, for centuries the Ajwain seeds and leaves have been used to cure common issues related to cold and digestion.
Here we will look at the Ajwain leaf and its many benefits. We will also look at some of the common preparations from the leaves, both medicinal and culinary.
Nutritional Value of Ajwain leaf
Ajwain leaves are widely used to flavour curries. This in a way is helpful because the leaves have a high nutritional value. It has naturally occurring nutrients and compounds that give it its many benefits such as helping during indigestion, constipation, acidity, aiding weight loss or controlling blood pressure. These nutrients also make it highly beneficial for the hair and skin.
- Ajwain leaves are rich in fibre and carbohydrates.
- They are rich in copper, calcium and phosphorous.
- The leaves have vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and vitamin E.
- Ajwain leaves are rich in amino acids and antioxidants.
Medicinal Uses of Ajwain Leaf
Ajwain leaves can be used as a remedy to relieve some very commonly occurring health conditions. Using the carom leaf to get relief is quite easy as we will see below.
Ajwain leaves have been found to be very helpful in curing symptoms related to the common cold such as nasal congestion and coughing.
- Boil a few Ajwain leaves in water to make a concoction. If you are having an intense cold, you can use 10 to 12 Ajwain leaves. Boil on a low flame till the water reduces to three-fourth of its original quantity. Strain the liquid and allow it to cool a little. You can add some honey if you want. Drink this concoction for relief from the common cold.
- You can also add black pepper and freshly chopped turmeric to the ingredients while boiling. This will make the concoction more effective.
If you suffer from stomach aches caused due to indigestion, acidity or bloating, chew some Ajwain leaves along with water. This will act on the causes and provide relief from stomach ache.
Top Benefits of Ajwain leaf for Health and Hair
Ajwain is a wonder plant. Both the seeds and the leaves have immense benefits for the body. Here we look at some of the Ajwain leaf benefits. We will also discuss some common Ajwain leaf recipes which are simple and an easy way to take these benefits -
You can use Ajwain leaves for hair health. We all know that the Ajwain seeds or Ajwain powder prepared from the seeds have a range of benefits for the hair including making the hair roots strong, nourishing the hair follicle, reducing scalp inflammation and curing dandruff. But not many know that the Ajwain leaves benefits for hair are not lagging far behind. The leaves have antibacterial and antifungal properties and can aid in maintaining the health of your hair and scalp. You can boil a few Ajwain leaves and seeds in water, when the water attains a distinct light brown colour from the leaves and the seeds, strain this liquid and let it cool. Pour this solution on your hair and wash the hair with this water. This will make the roots of your hair strong and reduce hair fall. It will lend shine and silkiness to your hair. Regular practice of this will not only keep your scalp away from infections but will also boost hair growth by nourishing the scalp.
Due to our eating patterns and lifestyle, indigestion and bloating are becoming a common issue with more people with every passing day. Ajwain leaves can provide relief from a variety of gastrointestinal conditions that arise from eating a lot of fried food. Improving digestion is one of the main Ajwain leaf benefits. For a better digestive system, you can chew a few leaves after taking your food. This improves your metabolism and promotes the secretion of gastric juices. It can be very helpful for people who experience bloating and heaviness after meals. The same effect also increases appetite in children. You can also use Ajwain leaves to prepare dips and chutneys. Consume the same with breakfast or lunch and your immunity and digestion will improve.
Chewing a few Ajwain leaves after food not just improves your digestion, it also promotes better oral health. Ajwain leaves have antibacterial and antifungal properties and chewing them after food acts as a mouth freshener. It also helps in getting rid of bad breath that arises due to bacteria acting on the food left in the mouth and caught in between the teeth.
Consuming Ajwain leaf juice with honey every morning can help improve the immunity of children and infants. It makes them resistant to common issues such as cold, fever and other digestive issues. If your child is falling sick frequently, do try this remedy.
You can use Ajwain leaves in preparing herbal juices with other ingredients such as tulsi or holy basil. A little jaggery can be added to make the juice sweet. This drink can prevent dehydration and should be consumed during summers.
Ajwain leaves help to maintain the hormonal balance in your body and reduce the occurrence of acne and pimples on your skin. The leaves also have cooling properties that keep the body hydrated and helps the body fight problems such as acne.
Ajwain leaves, if added to your food as an ingredient or chewed separately after food, keep your tummy full as it is very rich in fibre. This property makes it very useful in your weight loss journey as the hunger pangs will be reduced after consuming Ajwain leaves.
Although the usage of Ajwain seeds is more prevalent in cooking, Ajwain leaves can also be used to make a variety of dishes. Ajwain leaves have a lot of nutritional property and their usage as an ingredient in preparations can help in promoting better digestive health and strengthening immunity. Let us have a look at some of the Ajwain leaf recipes -
- Ajwain leaves can be used to prepare a variety of chutneys (dips and sauces). These will carry the unique flavour of Ajwain.
- Ajwain leaf pakora (or bhajia) can be prepared by dipping them in gram flour batter and then deep frying until crispy.
- Ajwain leaves can be used for flavouring in a variety of curries.
- Ajwain leaves can be used with curd or yoghurt to prepare raita. This will add a unique flavour to the raita and make it very nutritional.
- Chopped leaves can be used in salad, this will lend your salads a unique taste and flavour.
- Ajwain leaf can be added as an ingredient to a variety of vegetable juices. It will help in flavouring.
- Deep fried Ajwain leaves can be eaten as a snack along with your evening tea. It can also be included as savoury in lunch or dinner.
- Ajwain leaf tea can be prepared along with other traditional ingredients. You can also give the preparation a masala chai twist by skipping the tea leaves and using spices only.
- Addition as an ingredient to the traditional kadha that is prepared from a variety of spices is also one of the many common Ajwain leaf uses. This will increase the immunity boosting properties of the drink.
The Ajwain leaf is packed with nutrients and many health benefits. Including it in your diet in the form of a flavouring agent, as an ingredient in vegetable juices and raita or simply chewing a few leaves after food will go a long way in making your digestive system stronger and less prone to common issues such as indigestion and acidity. Such practice will also make your immunity stronger and promote improved overall health.