Carom Seed, also known as Ajwain and Bishop’s Weed is a spice that is limited to India -- particularly the state of Gujarat. It’s used as a seasoning for vegetarian dishes, bread, and pastries such as paratha and roti.
It’s delicious in fried potatoes and is even included in some curry blends. This can be bought online or at an authentic Indian grocery. If you aren’t able to find carom seeds, there are substitutes that you can use.
Carom Seed Substitutes
Thyme has a striking similarity in flavor to carom seeds. The difference is that carom seed has a slightly musty undertone, which makes dried thyme the most ideal stand-in. Thyme comes in many different variations, but the best alternative for carom seed is the standard variety. Both carom and thyme have woodsy notes with a hint of mintiness.
Oregano, like Thyme, is of Mediterranean origin and also a member of the mint family. This herb has earthy notes and has a sharpness that does a good job of substituting carom seeds. Oregano’s aroma is akin to carom seeds and also withstands longer cooking times. When using this as a substitute, use less than what the recipe requires as it may be a bit too pungent.