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Ajwain (a.k.a. Bishops Weed)

When I walk down the aisles of our local Indian market, it’s the rows of herbs and spices that I bathe in, taking in a long deep smell as I eye the overstocked shelves, while visions of new recipes dance through my head.

Other worldly folk are there too, expanding their palettes or planning to expand others’. Because the packages are labeled for a Middle East market in the Middle East, at times it can feel like an Easter egg hunt. It’s not long before we are all helping to find what everyone else is looking for. Sight and smell are our only devices. Like dogs at the airport, we’re sniffing bags.

I’m out of Thyme.  It’s an herb I’ve known since birth. Dried, fresh, simmered in a sauce… I can pick it out with my eyes closed. Except here, where subtle similarities and subtle differences require a sommelier. Eventually, I inquire and a helpful person steps out from behind the counter and, while they don’t carry thyme, she points to something I might like to try – ajwain.

It’s not an herb that I have listed on my internal substitution chart. So, I quickly check Wikipedia, and there it is… “Smells like thyme.”  Well, sort of. O.k.  But if i tried to pass it off as such to my neighbor Luigi (real name, real italian), he would probably look at me and ask, “do you really think I’m that gullible?”

Ajwain. A.k.a. “Bishops Weed.” It’s a pod, not a leaf, and its rich, musty and somewhat pungent essential oil can easily dominate a dish. I lightly toasted some in a pan until it wafted uncontrollably through my kitchen, then into the mortar and pestle for a little fine tuning – in this case, coarsely cracked. Now, what to put it on?

Native to and used extensively throughout the Middle East, ajwain may be a staple spice in many indian foods, but that is outdone by its array of Ayurvedic uses.

As a spice, it does slightly resemble thyme in smell, and to the tongue a somewhat pungent bitterness can sweep quickly across the buds if not used sparingly. In my trials, I found it quite appetizing on roasted root vegetables and squash. Curiously earthy, there are other hints of flavors that echo…cumin and caraway, but I recommend to just enjoy and not over analyze.

Tomorrow, I’m going to fine tune it again into a fine powder and use it as I would Zaatar – brushed with olive oil on breads and sprinkled on eggs, perhaps with a bit of sumac. I’ve always wanted to try making flatbread and this particular recipe that uses ajwain will get me started http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/ajwain_parathas_37143.

The medical and Ayurvedic uses of ajwain are well documented, and it has been used to treat disorders such as psoriasis, asthma, kidney stones and digestive orders. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-292-BISHOP’S%20WEED.aspx?activeIngredientId=292&activeIngredientName=BISHOP’S%20WEED).

For ingestion, ajwain is typically prepared as a tea, with water or even milk used as a base, or crushed and wrapped in a porous cloth and its aromas inhaled.(http://www.allayurveda.com/herb_month_january2012.asp). Topical applications vary, crushed and mixed with other oils, or it’s own oils extracted and then applied.

Banana, Date, & Cardamom Smoothie

Vanilla Date Cardamom Smoothie

1 cup plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt

1/3 cup nonfat or lowfat milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 medium-size ripe banana, peeled, sliced, and FROZEN

2 dates, chopped

Optional: pinch of cardamom

1. Combine the yogurt, milk, vanilla, banana, dates, and (optional) cardamom in a blender.

2. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour into a large glass. Yum.

http://enlightenedcooking.blogspot.com/2010/01/banana-date-cardamom-smoothie-no-added.html

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About MatchaGT by ShelleRae

Welcome! I am ShelleRae and I am very excited you are here. I joined the Smoothie Essentials team about 5 years ago now. Always health conscious and into prevention versus medication it seemed natural when the opportunity came up to take on the creation of this blog and the Smoothie Essentials blog as well. As mother to three and surrogate to many more I've practiced much of what I write on sometimes with great success and other times with a bit less. My friends and family are my test kitchen and my facts are most often from WebMD - they seem to have a fairly accurate and conservative approach. MatchaGT – the super premium Matcha Green Tea Introducing Matcha GT, the super premium Matcha Green Tea. Matcha GT is nature’s natural source of energy and antioxidants. Used for centuries in Japanese tea ceremonies, Matcha provides a powerful pick-me-up plus antioxidants and other health benefits to keep the body, mind and spirit in perfect balance. While many forms of green tea are strained or brewed, Matcha GT uses the whole tea leaf providing the full benefits and bold taste of whole green tea powder. My inspiration comes from others who also are striving to live a better life through lifestyle changes. More information is available at www.SmoothieEssentials.com or by emailing shelley@juicesolutions.com Benefits: Natural Caffeine – longer lasting energy Antioxidants – to fight cancer causing free radicals Chlorophyll – powerful blood cleanse Coffee concepts and juice bars across North America including Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Smoothie King, and Booster Juice have recently started selling Matcha Green Tea smoothies, frappes, and lattes, promoting the great taste and health benefits of green tea. http://matchagt.com/ http://www.smoothieessentials.com/

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