Caraway Seeds (Shah Jeera)

Botanical Information

Botanical name: Carum carvi

Caraway is a biennial herb that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa and is now widely cultivated around the world.

The plant grows up to 2 feet tall and has finely divided leaves and small white flowers that bloom in clusters. The plant produces seeds that are crescent-shaped, brown in color, and have a pungent aroma.

Nutritional Information

Caraway seeds are a rich source of essential nutrients that contribute to overall health and well-being. They are low in calories, but high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A 100-gram serving of caraway seeds contains 333 calories, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of protein, and 14 grams of fat.

The same serving size provides 38 grams of dietary fiber, which is essential for digestive health and can help lower cholesterol levels. Caraway seeds are also a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, which are powerful antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals that can cause cellular damage.

In addition to their fiber and vitamin content, caraway seeds are rich in minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells and oxygen transport throughout the body, while calcium and magnesium contribute to strong bones and teeth. A 100-gram serving of caraway seeds provides 66 milligrams of iron, 689 milligrams of calcium, and 568 milligrams of magnesium.

Caraway seeds also contain essential oils that contribute to their distinctive flavor and aroma. These oils are rich in compounds such as carvone and limonene, which have been shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Overall, caraway seeds are a nutritious and flavorful addition to any diet. They are a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, as well as essential oils with potential health benefits. Whether used as a seasoning in cooking or taken as a supplement, caraway seeds can provide a range of nutritional and health benefits for individuals of all ages and lifestyles.

Caraway seeds have been used for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The plant is native to the Old World and was first cultivated in the Middle East, where it had been used for five thousand years before its introduction to Europe in the thirteenth century.

Caraway grows wild in Europe and temperate parts of Asia and was naturalized in the United States and Great Britain. It is cultivated commercially in Morocco, Holland, and England for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Caraway has a rich history and has been found in the remains of Stone Age meals, Egyptian tombs, and ancient caravan stops along the Silk Road. Its botanical genus name, according to the first-century naturalist Pliny, was derived from Caria, an ancient region of Asia Minor, and the name “caraway” comes from ancient Arabic peoples who called the seeds “karawya,” the name they still bear in the East.

Caraway was believed to have magical properties, and potions were used to attract a person’s love. Moreover, caraway seeds were sprinkled on people’s most prized possessions to protect them from theft, or at least magically hold any would-be thief in place until the owner returned.

In medieval Europe, caraway was one of the most common spices used, and it was also recognized as a symbol of love and fidelity. People carried caraway in their pockets when attending wedding ceremonies, and married soldiers were sent off to war with a loaf of caraway bread baked by their wives.

Today, caraway is still an important ingredient in baked goods, soups, salads, cordials, confectionery, soaps, and perfumery. It is also used for its medicinal properties, particularly for digestive ailments.

Here are some of the health benefits of caraway seeds:

  • Good for digestion: Caraway seeds are traditionally used to relieve digestive problems such as flatulence, bloating, and indigestion. They may stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes, promoting better digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Caraway seeds may have anti-inflammatory effects, reducing inflammation and pain in the body. This may be beneficial for conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, and other inflammatory disorders.
  • Rich in antioxidants: Caraway seeds are a rich source of antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. They may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Anti-cancer properties: Caraway seeds contain compounds that may have anti-cancer properties. In animal studies, caraway seed extract has been shown to inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer cells.
  • Good for the immune system: Caraway seeds may support a healthy immune system due to their high content of vitamin C and other antioxidants.
  • Relief for respiratory disorders: Caraway seeds may have a beneficial effect on respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, and coughs. They may help relax the airways and reduce inflammation.
  • Relief for menstrual cramps: Caraway seeds may help relieve menstrual cramps and other menstrual symptoms, such as bloating and mood swings.
  • Rich in nutrients: Caraway seeds are a good source of several nutrients, including iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese.
  • Look for whole, unbroken seeds that are dark brown in color with a slightly curved shape.
  • Choose seeds that have a strong aroma, as this indicates freshness and flavor.
  • Buy caraway seeds from a reputable spice vendor, preferably one that has a high turnover to ensure freshness.
  • Store caraway seeds in an airtight container, such as a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, to prevent moisture and air from getting in.
  • Keep the container in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight, such as a pantry or cupboard.
  • Avoid storing caraway seeds near sources of heat, such as the stove or oven, as this can cause the oils in the seeds to evaporate and reduce their flavor.
  • Caraway seeds can last for up to one year when stored properly, but it’s best to use them within six months for optimal flavor.

Caraway Recipes


2 cups grated carrots

2 cups grated beetroot

2 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp salt

Water, as needed



  • Mix the grated carrots and beetroot in a large bowl.
  • Add the mustard seeds, caraway seeds, and salt. Mix well.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large glass jar.
  • Add enough water to the jar to cover the vegetables completely.
  • Cover the jar with a lid and leave it in a warm place for 3-4 days to ferment.
  • Once fermented, strain the liquid into a separate container and discard the vegetables.
  • Chill the liquid in the refrigerator and serve cold.


1 cup frozen green peas

1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch ginger, grated

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1 cup heavy cream

Salt, to taste

Chopped coriander leaves, for garnish


  • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.
  • Add the cumin seeds and caraway seeds and stir for a few seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Add the frozen green peas and chopped fenugreek leaves. Stir well.
  • Add the garam masala, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and salt. Stir well to coat the vegetables in the spices.
  • Add the heavy cream and stir well.
  • Cover the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or naan.

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