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Oct 31, 2009 08:39 AM

Indian term for Thyme?

Anyone know the indian term for thyme? I wish to grow them at home but didn't know which one it is.

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  1. The name depends on the dialect:
    Hindi : Banajwain
    Malayalam : Thottathulasi
    Punjabi: Marizha, Masho, Rangsbur
    Urdu: Hasha
    (the spellings are approximate transliterations)

    I don't believe it's a traditional spice, though. Ajwain (Ajowan), which is thyme-like (in flavor, at least) is:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Scott_R


      Any tips on growing them at home?

    2. All of those languages listed above in Scott R's response are classified as separate languages, not dialects.

      Anyhow, thyme isn't used in Indian cooking at all, and I don't think if you asked a native speaker of any Indian language one could tell you without looking in a dictionary how to say thyme since it isn't used. Probably Indians who cook Western foods which contain thyme just say "thyme."

      The Platt's dictionary, an authoritarian text on Hindi and Urdu, gives Farsi origin word ipaar and Arabic origin word Haasha for thyme and lists no Indic term for the word, see:

      I am guessing that the word exists in Urdu because it could be used in Yunaani/Hakeem medicine prescriptions or something.

      Ajwain is caraway seed and it tastes nothing at all like thyme to me, anyway, but the wiki page on it says it has a similar taste to thyme in the raw form because it contains thymol.

      1 Reply
      1. re: luckyfatima

        I don't think ajwain is caraway seed. Although it is similar in appearance.

      2. IMO-
        ajwain is not caraway seed.
        ajwain is round pellets/ used for its digestive proprieties, when used crushed.
        can be sometimes subbed for cumin. great with potatoes.
        caraway seed is a cousin of cumin, in looks and taste.
        my ajwain and thyme DOES NOT smell the same . :-)

        4 Replies
        1. re: divya

          waaahllll now, everybody here is just over my head with the indian thing, but i'd like to chime in with one of my favorites from moroccan or north african or middle eastern or whatever, za'atar. i get it in middle eastern markets, and it's mostly thyme with sumac, sesame and olive oil, but somehow still powderey... it's great. i toast pita, cut it in wedges, brush with olive oil and sprinkle za'atar for hummus. it really makes a difference in flavor and presentation. the sumac adds a lovely citric flavor, the powder makes a colorful presntation, both green and red, and it's mostly thyme. whod'a thunk? easy to impress the natives thing with a big difference in presentation! look for some.

          1. re: divya

            Ajwain is indeed caraway seed, also known as carom seed. Just have a google or look in a dictionary and see how ajwain is translated into English. There are some other, less commonly used translations as well, such as "Bishop's Weed," given as well, but I think caraway seeds would be the most widely understood exact translation of ajwain in English.

            Ajwain can be ground and pressed into pellets. You can also boil the seeds with water and feed this tea to babies to their ease gas bubbles. It is indeed used for not only its flavor, but its digestive properties.

            I agree with you that ajwain doesn't smell like thyme.

            1. re: luckyfatima

              I think ajwain is a kind of caraway. I've seen it called "black caraway" seed. But I don't believe it's the same as the caraway seed found in european rye bread.

              1. re: missmasala

                For ajwain classified as a type of caraway:


                Taxonomic Rank: Species
                Synonym(s): Ammi copticum L.

                Carum copticum (L.) Benth. & Hook. f. ex C.B. Clarke

                Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprague ex Turrill

                Common Name(s): Ajowan caraway

                Taxonomic Status:
                Current Standing: accepted

                I think you are right, the ajwain is different than European caraway. I think it is also a biological cousin of kala zeera/shahi zeera. They all seem to be differnt types of caraway.

                I don't know anything about taxonomy, but I just googled the taxonomic name of kala zeera: Bunium persicum and European type caraway: Carum carvi, and ajwain: Trachyspermum copticum...they are different, but all cousins, and distant relatives of cumin (normal zeera/white cumin).

          2. went into East Indian market yesterday which is conveniently next door to where I buy all my lipstick. I asked for ajwain and was told its caraway seeds, same as American caraway seeds. well I have caraway seeds so I don't need ajwain I told the sales gal. she agreed but why would Bal Arneson go on and on about the deliciousness of ajwain in her recipe for cottage pie if all it is is caraway I wonder.

            2 Replies
            1. re: iL Divo

              We already realized ajwain is not European caraway further up in the thread. I had mistakenly thought so before, too. Look at their binomial names on wikipedia. Sometimes people mistakenly think it is caraway, but they are not the same thing. The two look different, too. I have both in my cupboard. Here is a pic: The one closest to the camera is caraway, the one behind it is ajwain. They have a similar anisey fennely thing going on in their taste, but otherwise taste different, also.

              Caraway: carum carvi

              Ajwain: Trachyspermum ammi

              1. re: iL Divo

                Ajawain is always translated as caraway seed, but I think it might be a different variety than the caraway seed you see here in the US. The caraway we get here is long and slim, almost like cumin seed. Ajawain seeds are smaller and roundish, and have a spicier taste to them. I love ajawain seeds in many dishes, and use them often. They are also good for indigestion and upset stomach -- pop a couple pinches in your mouth and chew on them (but watch out for the spicy burn!).