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Also known as
Caraway or Persian cumin (Carum carvi) is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae, native to Europe and western Asia. What we commonly call as caraway seeds are actually fruits of the plant, but they are addressed colloquially as seeds by people around the world! The fruits are crescent-shaped, around 2 mm long, brown in colour, and sharp to touch with five pale ridges.
The fruits, usually used whole, have a pungent, anise-like flavour and aroma that comes from essential oils, mostly carvone and limonene. They are used as a spice in breads, especially rye bread. Caraway is also used in liquors, casseroles, and other foods like sauerkraut, for example. It is also used to add flavour to cheeses.
How to select
• Caraway seeds look very similar to cumin.
• They are dark brown, and can be bought whole or ground.
• Look for whole seeds that are dark brown with light brown ridges.
• Ground caraway seeds are also very dark brown in colour.
• Caraway is widely used as a spice for flavouring bread, biscuits, cakes and cheese.
• It is also used as medicine to relieve stomach ailments.
How to store
• Store in an air-tight container in a dry, cool area, to retain the aroma and flavour for longer.
• Always buy ground caraway in small quantities and store in an airtight container.
• Caraway seeds contain appreciable moisture, protein, fat and a substantial amount of carbohydrates besides ash, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. It also contains vitamins C and A.
• It is beneficial in activating the glands, besides increasing the action of the kidneys.
• The seeds are also useful in strengthening the stomach functions. In specific, they relieve flatulence and are useful in flatulent colic, countering any possible adverse effects of medicines. For flatulence, a cup of tea made from caraway seeds taken thrice a day, after meals, will give relief.
• Caraway seed oil is used orally in overcoming bad breath or insipid taste.