Ajwain's small, oval-shaped, seed-like fruits are pale brown schizocarps, which resemble the seeds of other plants in the Apiaceae family such as caraway, cumin and fennel. They have a bitter and pungent taste, with a flavor similar to anise and oregano. They smell almost exactly like thyme because they also contain thymol, but they are more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as being somewhat bitter and pungent. Even a small number of fruits tends to dominate the flavor of a dish.
The fruits are rarely eaten raw; they are commonly dry-roasted or fried in ghee (clarified butter). This allows the spice to develop a more subtle and complex aroma. In Indian cuisine, it is often part of a chaunk, a mixture of spices fried in oil or butter, which is used to flavor lentil dishes. In Afghanistan, the fruits are sprinkled over bread and biscuits.
The leaves of the Indian Borage are also called ajwain leaves and the plant itself is also sometimes called the ajwain plant in Tamil it is called oomam (ஓமம்) and in Telugu it is known as vaamu (వాము); the leaves are used to make popular dishes such as chutneys and pakoras. However it is not to be confused with the plant that is used for its fruits, whose leaves may or may not be edible.
Ajwain is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine primarily for stomach disorders such as indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea and colic. In Siddha medicine, it is used as a cleanser, detox, and antacid, In general, the crushed fruits are applied externally as a poultice.
Hydrodistillation of ajwain fruits yields an essential oil consisting primarily of thymol, gamma-terpinene and p-cymene as well as more than 20 trace compounds