Last week, my tummy wasn't doing too well. I had just come home from watching the movie "Rachel Getting Married" and was feeling nauseous. It might have been the film (a smart, yet emotionally jarring picture) or the rushed manner in which I consumed my meal beforehand (yes, even we health counselors are human). Regardless, I wasn't feeling too good. Fortunately, an old friend bailed me out and instantly made me feel better. Its name - ajwain.
This tiny, miracle seed was introduced to me as a child. Whenever I had an upset stomach, my mother and grandmother would always serve me a simple dish of ajwain with rice, salt and butter. I can't tell you how many times it has made me feel better. As I grew, I continued to ask for vaamu (the telegu word for ajwain) with my rice, regardless of whether I had an upset stomach. I liked the taste! However, as I left the comfortable bubble of my house, I was surprised how few people cook with or even know about it.
Ajwain is a wild celery seed. It is great for indigestion, nausea, and yes even flatulence. The seeds look like cumin and caraway, with a taste similar to thyme (albeit stronger). It is most potent when eaten raw. A small amount (5-10 seeds) can cure most stomach upsets. One can eat it alone or over rice. I simply crush a few seeds in my hand, before consuming, to release its fragrance.
Ajwain can be found in Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stores, like Kalustyan's in New York City. If you can't make it out there, they'll even let you order online. How cool is that?