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Spice It Up: 5 Best Substitutes for Ajwain (Carom Seeds)

Got a recipe that calls for ajwain and you’re out? No sweat!

We’ve been there, rummaging through the kitchen, thinking what on Earth can save our dish now.

Ajwain, with its unique flavor, seems irreplaceable at first. But guess what?

There are some pretty awesome stand-ins that can come to the rescue.

These substitutes not only save the day but might also introduce you to a new fav seasoning.

From the zesty punch of thyme to the warm, aromatic notes of oregano, we’re about to dive into a list of game-changers.

Keep reading to turn that hiccup into the highlight of your cooking adventure.

what is ajwain carom seeds

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ajwain (Carom Seeds)

Ajwain, also known as carom seeds, is a popular spice in Indian cuisine known for its distinctive flavor and aroma.

However, if you’re looking for substitutes for ajwain due to its unavailability or personal preference, there are several alternatives to consider.

In this guide, we will compare the top 5 substitutes for ajwain (carom seeds), discussing their key characteristics and suggesting proper ratios to help you find alternatives that suit your needs.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
ThymeEarthy notes with a slightly sharp flavor; similar aroma to ajwain; versatile and widely availableUse an equal amount of thyme as a substitute for ajwain (carom seeds)
Caraway SeedsPungent and slightly sweet flavor; commonly used in European and Middle Eastern cuisinesUse an equal amount of caraway seeds as a substitute for ajwain (carom seeds)
MarjoramSimilar flavor profile to ajwain; delicate and slightly floral taste; often used in Mediterranean dishesUse an equal amount of marjoram as a substitute for ajwain (carom seeds)
Mexican OreganoRobust and citrusy flavor; adds a similar aromatic note to dishes; commonly used in Mexican cuisineUse an equal amount of Mexican oregano as a substitute for ajwain (carom seeds)
Fennel SeedsMildly sweet with a licorice-like flavor; adds depth and aroma to dishes; commonly used in Indian cookingUse an equal amount of fennel seeds as a substitute for ajwain (carom seeds)

Now, let’s delve into each substitute in more detail:

1. Thyme

thyme

If you’re looking for spice with similar properties to Ajwain, thyme is a good option.

Like Ajwain, thyme contains thymol and carvacrol, which give it antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Thyme is a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine and can be used to flavor meat, vegetables, and bread.

It has a slightly minty flavor with a hint of lemon.

Thyme is a versatile spice that can be used in many different dishes.

Try adding it to roasted vegetables, soups, stews, or sauces.

You can also use thyme to flavor meat before cooking or garnish.

When it comes to thyme, a little goes a long way.

Start with a small amount and add more to the taste.

You can always add more, but you can’t take it away once it’s been added.

  • Key Characteristics: Thyme has earthy notes with a slightly sharp flavor. It shares a similar aroma to ajwain, making it a suitable substitute. Thyme is versatile and widely available.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of thyme as a substitute for ajwain. Adjust the quantity based on personal preference and desired taste.

2. Caraway Seeds

caraway seeds

For centuries, Caraway seeds have been prized for their medicinal properties.

The ancient Egyptians used them to treat digestive problems.

The Greeks and Romans believed that they could boost sexual potency.

Today, we know that caraway seeds can help treat indigestion and other digestive issues.

There are two ways to use caraway seeds for cooking.

You can either use the whole seed or ground it into a powder.

Caraway seeds have a strong, pungent flavor that is similar to anise.

When used in small amounts, they can add a lovely depth of flavor to dishes.

However, if you use too much, they can quickly become overwhelming.

These seeds are often used in baking, as they pair well with sweet and savory dishes alike.

Caraway seeds are a common ingredient in rye bread and give sauerkraut its characteristic flavor.

  • Key Characteristics: Caraway seeds have a pungent and slightly sweet flavor. Although different from ajwain, they can provide a unique taste to dishes. Caraway seeds are commonly used in European and Middle Eastern cuisines.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of caraway seeds as a substitute for ajwain. The distinct taste of caraway seeds will add depth to your recipes.

3. Marjoram

marjoram

One of the more well-known substitutes for Ajwain is Marjoram.

Marjoram is a spice that has a very similar flavor profile to Ajwain.

It is slightly sweeter than Ajwain and does not have the same bitterness.

Marjoram also has a milder flavor, so it may not be suitable for all dishes.

When substituting Marjoram for Ajwain, you will need to use less of it than you would Ajwain.

In terms of taste, Marjoram is a good substitute for Ajwain.

It has a similar flavor profile but is milder and slightly sweeter.

If you are looking for spice with a similar flavor but without bitterness, then Marjoram is a good choice.

This spice can be used in many dishes, but you may need to use less of it than you would Ajwain.

  • Key Characteristics: Marjoram has a flavor profile similar to ajwain, with a delicate and slightly floral taste. It is often used in Mediterranean dishes and can provide a mild substitute for ajwain.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of marjoram as a substitute for ajwain. Adjust the quantity according to your personal preference and the intensity of flavor desired.

4. Mexican Oregano

mexican oregano

This herb is a staple in Mexican cooking.

It has a strong, pungent flavor that some compare to mint.

Mexican oregano is often used in salsa, guacamole, and chili dishes.

When substituting for Ajwain, use half the amount of Mexican oregano called for in the recipe.

This herb can be found dried or fresh.

If using fresh, one tablespoon is equivalent to one teaspoon of the dried form.

Mexican oregano has a strong flavor, so it’s important to consider other flavors in the dish.

This herb can easily overpower other ingredients.

  • Key Characteristics: Mexican oregano has a robust and citrusy flavor. While not identical to ajwain, it can add a similar aromatic note to dishes, particularly in Mexican cuisine.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of Mexican oregano as a substitute for ajwain. The distinct flavor of Mexican oregano will enhance your recipes.

5. Fennel Seeds

fennel seeds

The last substitute on our list is fennel seeds.

These seeds have a sweet, anise-like flavor.

Fennel is used in both sweet and savory dishes around the world.

In Indian cuisine, fennel seeds are often used in curries and rice dishes.

They can also be found in Italian sausage and some baked goods.

When substituting for Ajwain, use half the amount of fennel seeds called for in the recipe.

These seeds can be a little tricky to find.

You may need to go to a specialty store or order them online.

Fennel seeds can be used whole or ground.

They can also be roasted to bring out a deeper flavor.

  • Key Characteristics: Fennel seeds have a mildly sweet taste with a licorice-like flavor. They add depth and aroma to dishes, making them a suitable substitute for ajwain in Indian cooking.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of fennel seeds as a substitute for ajwain. Adjust the quantity based on personal preference and the desired level of sweetness.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ajwain (Carom Seeds)

Looking to replace ajwain (carom seeds) in your recipes? Your search ends here! Explore our list of the 5 best substitutes for ajwain, offering a diverse range of flavors to suit your culinary needs.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving

Ingredients
  

  • Thyme
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Marjoram
  • Mexican Oregano
  • Fennel Seeds

Instructions
 

  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for ajwain
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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